TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- The mass shooting of children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut shook the nation and lawmakers in Florida hope to prevent something like that from happening here.
A bill allowing certain school employees to carry guns on campus is moving forward. Lawmakers in the House approved the measure in a final vote of 71-44.
"I think it's very important that we ensure our children are safe," said Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota.
For two years, Steube has tried to pass the bill allowing designated school employees to carry guns on campus.
"I absolutely as a father would feel more comfortable with that," he said.
He moves one step closer as his bill cleared the House on Monday, but several state representatives were concerned about the bill.
"We need to hire professionals to do this, that's what my county is doing," said Rep. Mark Danish, D-Tampa.
"At least give me the chance to have local control," said Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Sunrise.
"I urge you to vote against this bill," said Rep. Karen Castor Dental, D-Maitland.
Steube tried to address all of their concerns. He says the bill requires the person:
- to have a law enforcement or military background
- to have a conceal carry permit
- and, go through annual training.
He also says local school districts do have the control to opt out if they choose. That makes Rep. Carl Zimmerman from Dunedin, who is also an educator, feel a little bit better even though he opposes the bill.
"I was really concerned about the school districts that are 30 minutes away from police protection," Rep. Zimmerman said.
The bill still has to go through a tough approval in the Senate where that version of it was cut short in committee.