[5/6/19] – Florida Approves Bill to Arm Teachers

In the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting last year, a group of politicians—the “Parkland Commission”—gathered to investigate the issue of school shootings in their state. The Commission proposed a “Guardian Program,” which allows armed staff to be present in schools. Last week, Florida legislatures passed an additional piece of legislation that now allows for teachers to carry a firearm while in the classroom with the intent of protecting students from a shooting at their school. Advocates for the legislation argue arming teachers is a necessary part of an increasingly dangerous society. Opponents argue that guns in classrooms in any capacity are unnecessary and only complicate the learning environment for students of all ages. Any teacher who does arm themselves in the classroom is required to complete a 144-hour training. Districts can opt-in to the policy or not. The Governor of Florida is expected to sign the bill into law.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Florida Approves Bill to Arm Teachers

Learning Objectives

LO1: Describe normative responses of American politicians and civilians to school shootings.

LO2: Identify and discuss possible solutions to the social problem of school shootings.

LO3: Explain how guns in the classroom can change the way all people experience schools.



Stoneman Douglas student tells 60 Minutes why arming teachers is “stupid”
“Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of last month’s school shooting in Florida, is spearheading gun reform. But there’s one proposal she doesn’t want to see implemented.”


Florida One Step Closer To Allowing Teachers To Be Armed, Following House Vote
“Several months ago the commission that investigated the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School recommended that teachers on school campuses be allowed to undergo voluntary and intensive training to carry guns on campus.”


New Layer of Armed Security Added to Florida School
“In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school massacre, Florida has instituted a so-called “guardians” program. The guardians now supplement armed school resource officers, and they’re all state-qualified to open fire in a crisis.”



  1. Using a Symbolic-Interaction approach, discuss how the presence of a gun in the classroom will change relationship dynamics between teachers and students. In what ways can the knowledge of armed teachers in the classroom change the definition of a school? How might the passage of this legislation influence voting behaviors in the 2020 election?
  2. Describe the predictable pattern of responses from community members, media figures, politicians, and more in the aftermath of a school shooting. What are other normative responses to school shootings in society? How shocked would you say most Americans are when they learn about a school shooting occurring?
  3. A majority of schools expected to adopt this law are in rural areas. How are school shootings and gun violence defined differently in rural and urban areas? How do you think the environment and community of the school district will influence its decision to allow teachers into the classroom with guns or not?
  4. What do you think is an appropriate social response to the issue of school shootings in the United States? Why is it important to involve multiple stakeholders from the community when deciding how to respond to school shootings? Should the decision to arm teachers and other people on school campuses be left up to states—and ultimately school districts—or be legislated from Washington D.C.?
  5. Using a Conflict approach, explain how the issue of school shootings relate to social inequality. What social groups benefit most from existing gun legislation in the United States, and what social groups suffer the greatest consequences?

Current Events Quiz

A sociologist would be most interested in investigating which of the following aspects of school shootings?

  1. The amount of taxes people paid to their school districts going to arming educators.
  2. Training materials being accurately followed and recorded by officials.
  3. How the presence of a gun in the classroom may affect teacher-student relationships.
  4. Where shooters obtain their weapons.

Sociologists using a _______ perspective would be most interested in how school shootings serve to support society and provide roles for people to perform and opportunities for revenue to be drawn.

  1. Functionalist
  2. Symbolic-Interactionist
  3. Conflict
  4. Rational-Choice

From a sociological perspective, which of the following groups is most likely to be affected by school shootings?

  1. Teachers
  2. Students
  3. Family
  4. All of the above


Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/kenlh

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