Community split on proposal to arm Brevard County teachers

The first of three public meetings to discuss arming Brevard County teachers was held in Palm Bay on Tuesday evening.

PALM BAY, Fla. — The first of three public meetings to discuss arming Brevard County teachers was held in Palm Bay on Tuesday evening.

Before the meeting, students, parents and teachers laid on the sidewalk with signs shaped like tombstones with the message that more guns will not make schools safer.

"If you put more guns into the equation, gun violence is just bound to occur," said Karly Hudson, a junior at Melbourne High School.

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The idea came about after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

A state law requires schools to have either an officer or armed guardian on every campus by the start of the next school year.

Arming some staff was part of Sheriff Wayne Ivey’s four-layer plan to better protect schools.

His plan also included additional resource officers.

"With as little as I get paid as a teacher, I'd be willing to pay more taxes to see our children protected," teacher Adam Tritt said.

The proposal drew protests criticizing the plan at last week’s Brevard County School Board meeting.

Dozens of people spoke out at last week's meeting against the so-called Sheriff Trained Onsite Marshal Program, or STOMP.

If approved, STOMP would allow vetted and trained school personnel to volunteer to carry concealed firearms on campus.

"No matter how much training, how many hours of training, it's not going to compare to military training or police academies," said Jiana Carroll.

School board members heard from parents and students who like the idea of school staff carrying guns on campus.

"I think we have a responsibility to our schools and to our children to not allow anyone to be a sitting duck any longer," a man said at Tuesday's meeting.

"I know that I personally would feel much safer if the guardian program were in place," a student said.

The school board watched a video from Ivey, who initially recommended the plan to arm school personnel before scaling back his strong endorsement.

The other public town-hall sessions will be:

Tuesday, May 1 
Rockledge High
7- 8:30 p.m.

Monday, May 7 
Jackson Middle, Titusville     
7- 8:30 p.m.

The school board could vote on the measure May 8.