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Karen Castor-Dentel Backs Bill Allowing Some School Employees to Arm

March 28, 2013 | WMFE- A Florida House bill that would allow some school employees to be armed received a surprise 'yes' vote from Democratic Representative Karen Castor Dentel, as it was approved by a House Education subcommittee. Castor Dentel, a Maitland teacher, says she walked into Wednesday's K-through-12 subcommittee meeting ready to oppose the measure but the details of the bill changed her mind.

[Image: Karen Castor-Dentel]

Castor Dentel says she won’t go along with any school safety legislation that makes a classroom sound like the Wild West. Republican Representative Greg Steube’s measure is different. 

“This isn’t the ‘let’s just arm all the teachers’ bill. He had a much more nuanced bill," Castor-Dentel says.

She says Steube’s bill would give a school’s principal the option to designate a staff member or members to get a concealed permit and go through lengthy training and background checks. The weapon would be carried hidden at all times.

“They likened it to kind of like an air marshal on a plane," she says.

"And I can see that in an instance where they don’t have a security officer on a campus. There is that level of protection."

Ideally, Castor Dentel would like every school to have a resource officer and other reliable security measures in place. But she says Steube’s bill is a responsible option to try to keep kids safe – especially at rural Florida schools where the nearest police station may be 10 or 15 minutes away.

The bill still has 3 more legislative panels to pass.


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