Parkland Commission Chair Changes His Mind, Advocates Arming Teachers to Protect Students

Sheriff Gualtieri Parkland Commission Marjory Stoneman Douglas Arm Teachers

courtesy tampabay.com and AP

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri hasn’t been a big fan of arming civilians. While he professes support for the Second Amendment, he’s warned Floridians that if they exercise their (limited) right to open carry, they risk taking a round to the chest if they encounter a law enforcement officer.

He also very publicly declined to charge Michael Drejka in the convenience store parking lot shooting of Markeis McGlockton, claiming that his hands were tied by the state’s “stand your ground” law. That appeared to be a convenient way of registering his disapproval of the law by letting a clearly questionable incident slide (Drejka was later charged with manslaughter by the State Attorney).

Now, however, Sheriff Gualtieri finds himself as chairman of the state commission that’s looking into all aspects of the Parkland school shooting. And his time reviewing what happened that day has brought about a significant change in his opinion on guns.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri now supports arming teachers and other school personnel as a line of defense against school shootings, a striking change of heart driven by his work with a state commission investigating February’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Gualtieri said Friday he changed his mind after watching surveillance video and studying the timelines of Parkland and other school shootings as chairman of the commission established to review what went wrong and recommend ways to make schools safer.

What specifically caused Gualtieri to re-examine his opinion?

The man accused in the shooting at the Broward County school, Nikolas Cruz, paused to reload his gun five times — moments that could’ve been taken advantage of by trained volunteer teachers and school staff had they been armed, Gualtieri said. A school resource deputy stayed outside while Cruz sprayed bullets from an AR-15 rifle inside, investigators said. The final fatal rounds had already been fired by the time law enforcement officers arrived.

Gualtieri had formerly only advocated adding more armed school resource officers — those who won’t merely stand outside while the shooting and killing take place inside — to the state’s schools. In his own county . . .

Pinellas opted instead to staff most schools with armed guards. Dozens of guards went through 176 hours of training over the summer, including active shooter drills and firearms training. Hillsborough and Pasco went similar routes, while Hernando is staffing with school resource deputies.

But one guard per school, or even more than one in selected high schools, isn’t enough, Gualteri said.

He pointed to the enrollment and footprint of Stoneman Douglas High: 3,300 students and 200 staff across a 45-acre campus with 16 buildings.

The additional fire power from teachers trained to carry weapons would provide more coverage and create a deterrent that would make potential attackers think twice, Gualteri said.

This change of heart hasn’t been well received by the state teachers association, which still adamantly opposes allowing teachers to volunteer to be trained and carry firearms. And Governor Rick Scott (now Senator-elect Scott) wasn’t a fan of the idea either.

As CBS Miami reports,

It’s a proposal that both the state teachers union and PTA oppose.

So does Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was murdered in the February massacre.

Montalto is the President of the group Stand with Parkland which is made up of the families of all 17 victims.

“We are unequivocally against arming teachers. It happens to be the one thing that all 17 teachers initially came out against,” said Montalto.

Montalto believes a better idea is to focus on protecting campuses and keeping bad guys off school grounds.

But that’s head-in-the-sand thinking. Because if there’s one thing nearly everyone agrees on, it’s that it will happen again. The only question is how prepared the targeted school is to counter the attack.

The Pinellas union’s (president Mike) Gandolfo said he’d rather see more funding for mental and emotional health counseling in the schools, hardened buildings and sworn law enforcement on campus.

Still, Gandolfo said he agrees with Gualtieri on one point: It’s not if, but when, another attack happens.

With that in mind, Gualtieri said, the key is lessening the impact.

“The status quo has failed,” he said, “and unless we make change, we will continue to have an environment that doesn’t provide the right level of safety in schools.”

 

 

comments

  1. avatar bryan1980 says:

    It’s the only logical conclusion any person can arrive at.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Logic, facts, and critical thinking are unimportant for about half of our population. Feelings and virtue are supreme instead.

      And that would be fine if those people kept to themselves. However, many/most people who hold their feelings and virtue to be supreme also insist on limiting my rights according to their feelings and their idea of virtue. Therein lies the problem.

      1. avatar bryan1980 says:

        True, I probably should have said “It’s the only choice a logical person can arrive at”.

        I try to forget about that other half of the population as much as possible.

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      certainly makes sense when the “armed security” refuse to do their job….and the teacher’s union doesn’t speak for all teachers…something most critics fail to acknowledge……

  2. avatar FB says:

    @Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, it’s not rocket science.

  3. avatar Texican says:

    Only took him 17 dead kids and useless Sheriff’s and deputies to figure it out. Anything new on “Mr. Amazing Leadership,” i.e. Sheriff Israel?

  4. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Here are four hard FACTS that are inescapable:
    (1) There are deeply disturbed people among us.
    (2) There will always be deeply disturbed people among us.
    (3) Some of them will set-out to murder en masse every year.
    (4) Their murder spree will yield one fatality every 24 seconds until an armed defender stops them*.

    And yet, about half of our population insists on remaining defenseless because accepting those facts is immensely unpleasant.

    * According to current statistics, spree killers cause one fatality every 24 seconds on average while they are attacking. (Fatalities could happen during the attack or occur after the attack is over as a result of injuries sustained during the attack.) And an armed defender “stops” the attacker either through threat or actual application of armed resistance.

    1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

      …”Here are four hard FACTS that are inescapable:
      (1) There are deeply disturbed people among us….”

      Of those, some are easily recognizable..others are fully functional in our society and very hard to spot. (No one saw the Vegas shooter as a mass murderer)

      So-called Red Flag laws will only work for the former, even though due process has been thrown out the window.

      We’ll never see the latter coming and is why we train and prepare to defend against both types.

      Being disarmed just means you are a easier target.

      The writer of this article, like most, live in a bubble.

    2. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

      Most people’s minds cannot long withstand the unbearable anxiety brought about by extremely unpleasant thoughts and beliefs. It’s too jarring and, therefore, unacceptable.

      That’s why the mind has developed numerous psychological defense mechanisms to address that unpleasantness. They allow the mind to express those thoughts and feelings, but in a more controlled manner less threatening to the individual. For example:

      The mind is horrified by the fact that young people with their entire lives full of promise and potential ahead of them would mow down their friends, family, and teachers in a blood bath. The mind responds variously with denial that it happened or could again, or with displacement, which shifts their disgust to bystander concepts like Republicans, the NRA, and firearms in general and blames them.

      Similarly, many of these people are cowards who would never be able to defend themselves, let alone anyone else. Some are psychos themselves who see themselves as apt to be the spree shooter if they were armed. Those are all unacceptable feelings, so the mind projects those feelings onto others. This is where we get the lame accusations that all concealed carriers are crazy Rambo wannabes who would only get themselves and others killed. So we mustn’t ever allow teachers, parents, etc. to be armed on campus. They’re really referring to themselves.

      The drawbacks with defense mechanisms is, first, that they’re only temporary. So the mind must continue expending mental energy deploying them to quell that ongoing anxiety. This is psychologically exhausting and weakening long term. Second, insofar as they do work, they do so by distorting reality, which does nothing to address the actual problem. And so the cycle begins anew.

      1. avatar Ardent says:

        Excellent analysis J-H. Certainly denial is a part of it, as is cognitive bias and confirmation bias. Of the latter, I suspect that for some, perhaps many, of the antis it’s about the narrative they have accepted, often long ago and with little or no critical though. The narrative goes “guns are bad” and the corollary is “people with guns are bad”.

        Never mind that only a tiny fraction of the population will ever commit murder, or that the portion who will, will do so regardless of access, or lack there of, to guns. Even among those carrying unlawfully for legitimate purposes, even among those carrying illegally for nefarious purposes, mass murder is so rare as to be a statistical anomaly.

        This is where the confirmation bias comes in. It’s well known that lawful carriers are extremely law abiding on average, and that lawfully carried guns prevent far more murder than they commit, and that increasing the percentage of the population who
        is armed decreases or has no effect on violent crime in every study, and that mass murderers tend to continue until confronted by armed resistance, at which time they typically surrender or commit suicide almost immediately, ending the murdering. These facts, this reality so to speak, runs counter to the narrative accepted by most antis, and is thus ignored in favor of the somewhat popular but completely false idea that gun possession increases the likelihood of attempted murder.

        Rather than admit, even internally, that the initial assumption, the narrative, was wrong, and thus adopt a view that better comports with reality, thereby allowing the development of effective solutions to actual problems, the anti tends to double down, forever calling for less guns on less people in less places, despite the fact that these sorts of policies tend to facilitate mass murder rather than alleviate it.

        I submit that such is exactly the same mechanism that enables cults to thrive, and which is partially explained by the good money after bad fallacy: some people simply cannot, even to themselves, even in the face of overwhelming evidence and regardless of the degree of harm, ever admit they were mislead.

        This is how many confidence scams work, and is a well understood and relatively common problem in many circles. The solution is improved critical thinking and a devotion to rationality and introspection.

        The difficulty is that these traits tend to be strongest in those with the higher intellect, and are notably lacking in inferior intellects…half the population are operating with an IQ below 100. It is an inherent problem of democracy and one of which the founders were well aware and attempted to mitigate via such institutions as the electoral college, and through the Bill of Rights.

        The 2A ought to have been protection enough for the right of the people to keep and bear arms to be safe from degradation by short-sighted, foolish and frightened people. It likely would have been when land ownership was a prerequisite for voting, and likely would still be, if either those people lacking in critical thinking skills were not organized into a particular political party, or we, as a people, were much more serious about maintaining our rights and liberties generally. As for a modern solution: There are a multitude of ways of correcting the current situation, for example, specifically teaching critical thinking skills in early education, but as a practical matter, the only likely solutions are either an eventual, incremental destruction of our rights and privilages, or a rather nasty civil war which either divides us into two or more nations, or greatly reduces the urban population. I’m afraid there may be no easy way out at this point.

  5. avatar WhiteDevil says:

    I wonder how he still feels about murdering someone who is simply open-carrying.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    It’s hard to take Bob Gualtieri seriously when he has only three stars on his shoulder boards. Any self-respecting top cop should have at least seven or eight. Also, for full effect, he should be wearing jodhpurs and jackboots.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      You can hear the sneer in his voice when he says the word civilian.

  7. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    The Communist LED teachers union that prevents teachers who want to volunteer to carry and protect their children is a worthless labor Union. This labor union is the enemy of children. It is the enemy of their parents.

    And why not have the cafeteria staff carry guns if they volunteer to. The most recent shooting in a Texas High School occurred in the cafeteria building which lasts for 25 minutes.

  8. avatar Icabod says:

    When I was teaching I looked at the staff and how many I would (a.) Trust with a gun and (b.) Would be able to fire for effect. Out of 70 some, I could name 3. Two of us had been career military, the other was an avid hunter.
    How bad was it? When Osama Ben Laden was killed, a teacher came into our break room in tears. Her students had been happy at the news. She however was sad “At the death of a human being.” The others gave her lots of support and sympathy. Yes, it was that bad. They had been safe and comfortable all their lives and could not believe that people were evil.

    1. avatar tinhats says:

      I, too, am retired military teaching high school and my view of colleagues is similar to yours in whom I would trust with a gun, although I would except a few more would stand up and be effectively trained. But even if it is only three out of seventy, that’s a zillion percent more than none.

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      suspect you’d get a different total in most junior high’s and high schools where there are more males…

  9. avatar Stuart K says:

    Teachers who whine refuse to face reality. Only you are responsible for your safety. Your dream world does not exist.

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      defines some…not others…

  10. avatar MLee says:

    You know what differentiates a cop from others, TRAINING, oh and a nifty title. It doesn’t take a whole lot of training to equal that of what the average cop has. Yes cops have more indoctrination into the “mind set” of we go home, the bad guy goes to jail or is dead. That is important, no doubt, but with excellent training comes that mind set. Also, a little thing that seems to be conveniently overlooked, the deterrent value.

    When soft targets are no longer soft, these idiot squid-baits that do these shootings will likely NOT do them. They are cowards or they wouldn’t be shooting little kids. The prospect of getting shot by a trained heat packing teacher clearly will have a chilling effect for cowards.

    Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is right, one resource officer isn’t enough. A person could do horrid damage long before a resource officer is able to effectively respond. Obviously training teachers is the correct answer and the teachers union that says no, well who cares what they think. Ask the parents, it’s their children and then ask the older children what they think, as long as it’s older high school aged kids with a brain of their own.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      They aren’t attacking kids because they’re cowardly – they’re attacking them because they’re their peers, and often their tormentors and bullies. Newtown was an exception, but the other school shootings were at the school the shooter attended either that year or the previous one.
      Robert Heinlein had a quote, “Don’t frighten a little man. He’ll kill you.” Kids need to be taught that if the “freak” you’re bullying and picking on doesn’t have a reasonable chance at fighting back on equal social/physical/intellectual terms, he may escalate to weapons. I’m not absolving the killers, but some of the bullies are poking the bear and pushing the killers over the edge. The killers are so miserable, they think their life isn’t worth living, and they’re going to take out some of the people that hurt them and make a name for themselves to prove they mattered.

      1. avatar MLee says:

        I’m sorry, I have far more experience than you do dealing with bullies. Bullies ARE cowards.

      2. avatar frank speak says:

        kids suffered similar abuse “back in the day”….high school hasn’t really changed…without resorting to weapons and murder….

  11. avatar Vicrattlehead says:

    The thickness of some people is astonding sometimes. That there could even be a group of teachers and parents that either witnessed this atrocity firsthand, or had their children violently and helplessly murdered by a lunatic; that they can all agree that a trained responder (teacher/facilty) with a gun (gasp!) would somehow be of less use than their idiotic, and clearly failed anti-gun idealology is just mind blowing! They are LITERALLY offering up their kids, as well as everyone else’s, as martyrs to their cause.
    It disgusts me clear into my soul.

    1. avatar Ardent says:

      I share your angst Vic:

      Its bad enough that the sort of policies these antis create violates people’s rights and leaves them defenseless. Those alone are obvuously serious problems. Somehow worse to me, is that given their (supposed?) reasoning, I also have to cope with the fact that some people are so stupid as to believe some of the self evidently false, utterly absurd lies as the gun control crowd spread.
      With that, I also have to accept that there are people so cynical and vile that they willingly, even gleefully sacrifice children to the cause of civilian disarmament.

      Perhaps worst of all, I have to endure having my intelligence insulted by pretending that they aren’t either blithering idiots or outright monsters, and that I should take the likes of their word for it that I’d be better off disarming myself, as they dance in the blood the latest massacre of unarmed innocents, which somehow is supposed to support their argument.

      So you see, from my perspective, just how odious are the antis arguments and how painful to endure.

      Hang in there, I feel your pain.

      1. avatar Shallnot BeInfringed says:

        “Perhaps worst of all, I have to endure having my intelligence insulted by pretending that they aren’t either blithering idiots or outright monsters…”

        Although it’s now approaching 19 years old (however, no less true now than it was then), your words remind me of the excellent essay by L. Neil Smith, Murder by Gun Control http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2000/libe68-20000331-07.html :

        “Stupid, insane, or evil.
        Or all of the above.
        Your choice.”

        (Cue the clueless libertarian-haters…)

        1. avatar Ardent says:

          Thanks Shall not. I enjoyed the essay, and appreciate the comparison. It isn’t often I get to read someone who reflects my own thoughts quite so adamantly.

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      yeah,..seem to prefer buckets of rocks or little baseball bats…anything but a gun…

    3. avatar Ing says:

      You are definitely not alone. The hatred and disgust I feel toward these people can’t be expressed in words.

      The fact that they’re mostly just misguided doesn’t help. In fact, it makes it worse; they’re doing evil in the sincere belief that it’s actually good.

      The most vile of all evils will wear a smile, speak with honeyed words, and use your better self against you.

  12. avatar Marty says:

    Just read the statistics of mass shootings in the US. 97+% of the shootings since 1950 were committed in gun free zones. No, it’s not necessary to arm school officials?

  13. avatar AlanInFL says:

    Hell, Israel and the Philippines armed their teachers.

  14. avatar Paul says:

    Changes mind after election. Nice. However, hes usually unopposed or no real opponents.

  15. avatar DaveDetroit says:

    Clearly we just need to pass a law making it illegal to be shot in Gun Free Zones. Problem solved.

  16. avatar Stateisevil says:

    He is an anti gun statist extremist. He fits right in as Florida is a very anti gun state.

    1. avatar bryan1980 says:

      No, most of the state isn’t anti-gun; it’s just held hostage by a few counties that are. Much like Washington, Oregon, New York, etc. etc.

  17. avatar Jay in Floridaduh one town from Parkland says:

    Not only is the sheriff yet another anti civilian gun type. All have more or less missed number one on the solution list. And most likely the largest impediment. Get rid of the gun free zone bullshit. Get going on from there as a start.

  18. avatar Craig in IA says:

    I believe it’s more of a CYA measure when the videos of a couple cops “sheltering in place” have gotten into mainstream viewing. Pretty difficult to condone that behavior to either side, so…

  19. avatar possum says:

    3,300 students, whooie. It’s hard to imagine that. My H.S. graduating class had 32:, and I’d guess over all the High Skool had 120 in it.

  20. avatar TomC says:

    The stupidity in this discussion starts right in the headline, then keeps going throughout the article and continues down into the comments.

    ARMING teachers is a ridiculous thing to do — which is why NO ONE except those opposing it have ever talked about ARMING teachers or other school staff.

    OUR MISTAKE is that we are allowing the “anti’s” to frame the entire discussion just by letting them choose the terminology.

    I don’t know of any sane person who thinks arming unwilling teachers is a viable answer or even a viable part of an answer. What we are talking about is ALLOWING teachers to arm themselves if they choose.

    Once the discussion is properly framed to be about allowing teachers to make a choice, then the teachers’ union is forced to admit that their position is to limit the rights of their members (they wouldn’t be the first union to take a position against their members, but it does make it a harder position for the union leaders to sell to their paying members.)

    The discussion then becomes about what limitations (IF ANY!) should be put on teachers who want to carry a firearm. Should teachers need permission from the school administrator? Should teachers need special training? How much training? What kind of training? Should these standards be set state-wide, or by the school district, or by individual schools?

    And, of course, the one point that we won’t discuss — cannot discuss — is how many teachers are already carrying concealed weapons despite various laws and policies.

    1. avatar Marty says:

      I have been in support of armed teachers for years. Just look at all the recent school shootings. Teachers placing their selves between the shooter and their students. Does anyone really believe they would not engage the shooter? These students are like the teachers own kids. Yes, they would need good firearms training. I believe the Front Sight Training Institute has already offered free training for any teacher or school employee. Their 3 day handgun training course would be a great start. IMO, anyone against arming some of the teachers are either blind to the problems with school shootings, or doesn’t give a crap about the school kids.

    2. avatar Ardent says:

      Thank you for saying it Tom. Indeed , the language has been highjacked. Allowing teachers (that is, people) to exercise their natural and constitutuonal rights is all that’s asked. Just to be allowed to do what the constitution already says we’re allowed to do is what’s needed.
      Anyone on the other side of that equation should be called, and is, an anti civil rights bigot. When your own union is against you having the ability to defend yourself, it is an adverse position, and shouldn’t be construed as a defense of the members.

      As with “assault weapon” and so many other ambiguous, distorted, misleading, inaccurate, duplicitous and at times outright fabricated terms used by, and you can’t make this up “progressives” and “liberals”. They are successfully defining the terms of the argument by literally redefining the literal terms of the argument. Just like people of nefarious purpose throughout history, they’re lying. Their every word shows it. People who have the truth on their side don’t use misleading phrases, tortured redefinitions and outright lies to make their point.

    3. avatar frank speak says:

      teacher’s carrying is not a new thing…permitted or otherwise…in the past it was usually for personal protection in a hazardous environment….and that would still apply today if you found yourself in the line of fire…

  21. avatar Ed Schrade says:

    So Montalto wants to continue with the gun free zones that have gotten people killed. Now what was the definition of insanity ?

  22. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

    So, fit his solution to what he saw? What’s up with this guy?

    We can’t have any observations here; we’re doing science.

  23. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    The video got out, then Sheriff FewStars had to adjust his position.

    Little Hoagie spouts this or that, then fades as the actual report, data, video says something else.

    Sheriff Lyin gets his WWE town hall show trial w NRADana. Then the clips show the set up n he’s not such a hero. Then the response audio gets out. Then the file on shooter-guy. Then the hiring and qualifications in the dept.

    Breitbart made his bones with one clip, asking “protesters” why they egged him. Locked it in when he hijacked that “press conference”.

    “Nobody needs a gun”, until the buried CDC reports leak out. It turns out that a few million people a year “need” a gun to keep living their lives.

    Get the first hand, ground truth observations out, and the anti-people can’t spin the fictions that “support” what they want to do. There’s a word for doing stuff that only fits the story in your head.

    You know it’s not about you living yr life when they won’t let you opt out of their better way. Better for whom? In what way? Florida teachers’ union won’t “let” teachers who want to arm themselves. Who, exactly does this union represent?

    Proconsul Cuomo-the-Younger was outraged — O K, he’s always outraged about something; that’s his brand — when one of his entourage was clipped by incidental fire that people under his rule live with every day. So, the Prez in Waiting declared peaceful folk must be less able to #shootback, doing nothing about the cartel turf wars that threw that bullet and many others. His operation gets a cut when the funds hit the above ground economy, if not before.

    We are motivated to do this – defend iurselves, push back on being herded chattle n helpless – because the people who get their lives shaved down are us.

    They don’t look so good when actual facts creep out. Too bad for them that they can’t stop the signal.

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