Broward News

Sandy Hook Tragedy Has Florida Parents and Students on Edge

Tensions have been high right here in Florida ever since the tragedy that unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut, last Friday.

People are being arrested for bringing guns into schools, modified lockdowns are being enforced over bullets found on a school bus, and we're learning that bulletproof backpacks are a thing, and that Floridians are buying them in droves.

According to Leon County Sheriff's Office, a 15-year-old high school student was arrested today for bringing a handgun to his Tallahassee school.

And not just a handgun: a semiautomatic handgun.

Police say an alert student at Leon High School saw the ninth-grader with the weapon and informed school authorities.

According to school officials, the gun was not loaded. The student, who remains unidentified, was charged with carrying a concealed firearm and with possessing a firearm on school grounds.

Meanwhile, in Port Charlotte, the drunken grandfather of a Kingsway Elementary student was arrested for attempting to bring a gun into the school yesterday.

The man, identified as 61-year-old Stephen Miller, claimed he brought the gun because he was concerned for his grandchildren's safety in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

On Monday, a bullet was found on a school bus that transported children to three Tampa-area schools. The schools were forced into modified lockdowns while police searched the students who rode the bus.

And today comes the report that Salt Lake City-based armor company Amendment II has received $50,000 in orders from Florida for their $300 military-grade bulletproof backpacks.

Again, all following Newtown.

Tensions are high, and understandably so. 

In some schools, the tension is higher than in others, such as the lax in security in Gainesville's Kanapaha Middle School, where a man with a "Sniper" tattoo wandered onto school premises and walked through a PE class of about 100 students before asking staff members for food and beer.

There are no easy answers in the wake of such senselessness. And the complexities of dealing with the aftermath is equally uneasy.

But Florida law makers, in both their inaction and silence, aren't helping. 

They've done nothing in regard to making any kind of move toward improving gun laws or talking about gun laws or even mentioning gun laws in a way that might start to give parents and students some peace of mind.

Not a single piece of gun legislation has been introduced in either the Florida House or the Senate since Newtown. And Rick Scott came out with a very tepid response, merely saying that school districts should review their safety procedures (because they would have never thought of doing that all on their own!).

Democrats have been equally guilty, not doing much to pressure their pro-gun, pro-NRA colleagues to make a move or do... something.

Oh but Republican Florida Rep. Dennis "Stand Your Ground Law" Baxley spoke up on Monday. He wants a law that says teachers and principals should be allowed to carry guns in school.

So to recap: Tensions are high. Parents and students are understandably afraid. And the decisionmakers in Florida have done nothing to allay those fears except express a desire to make it OK for that 15-year-old who brought an unloaded gun into school to get justifiably shot by his Social Studies teacher.


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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph