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One year after Parkland school shooting, Florida lawmakers still pushing to arm teachers

Seventeen people were killed when a 19-year-old man opened fire inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Credit: Getty Images
People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

PARKLAND, Fla. — In the days after the shooting that left 17 students and staff members dead in Parkland, Fla., state lawmakers mourned and debated how they should respond.

Almost a month after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting, then-Gov. Rick Scott signed into law new gun restrictions that include a three-day waiting period for buying all firearms and raising the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21. 

More: Remembering the victims and the movement for student safety one year after Parkland shooting

Previous: After Parkland tragedy, Florida failed to address its biggest school security threat: depress kids

However, 10Investigates found the school safety bill focused on securing schools and hiring security guards but did not focus enough on mental health.

State officials also debated arming teachers, and one state senator proposed allowing religious institutions with schools attached to have firearms on their property. The issues of guns on campus and how to protect students have been debated continuously over the last year.

The question of arming teachers or staff members has been reignited since the inauguration of Gov. Ron DeSantis and in the months leading up to the Feb. 14 anniversary.

Back in December, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission released some findings of its investigation into the shooting and recommended arming teachers. The commission said a series of missteps led to the massacre of 17 people at the high school.

Previous: Parkland high school commission OKs proposal to arm teachers in Florida

More: Parkland shooting fuels 'gun-free-zone' debate in Florida

In January 2019, the 15-member commission unanimously approved a 446-page report containing a proposal and other recommendations for school security, including arming teachers who volunteer and undergo training.

That report is still in the hands of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state legislature.

Commissioners also criticized Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for a policy that deputies "may" confront active shooters instead of "shall," giving deputies an excuse for not charging the school. One of DeSantis's first actions after taking office was suspending the sheriff over his handling of the Parkland shooting.

Most recently, a Senate bill was filed to expand the existing "Guardian" program. The bill would require a sheriff to establish a school guardian program and require schools districts to promote a mobile suspicious activity reporting tool. 

The bill just passed through an important committee and could be one of the first bills the Senate will consider when the legislative session opens next month.

Related: Remembering the victims of the deadly Parkland shooting

More: Parkland students named to TIME's 100 most influential people of 2018

Since the Parkland shooting, surviving students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and thousands of others around the country have rallied and advocated for change. Many of these students have been becoming of legal voting age in the past year and have been actively pushing for gun reform like assault weapon bans and universal background checks.

Students David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin and Alex Wind were leaders of the group that started the #NeverAgain movement to ensure their classmates’ deaths would not be forgotten and to curb gun violence. 

More: Never again: The school shooting generation

It prompted the National School Walkout on March 14, 2018. Later that month, the March for Our Lives rallies had more than 1 million people across the nation attend rallies for safe schools. 

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