Broward County Deputies will begin carrying rifles on school grounds in the wake of last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, according to Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.
“This morning, I implemented a practice within the Broward Sheriff’s Office and spoke to Mr. Runcie and he’s fully cooperative of my decision, that our deputies who are qualified and trained will be carrying rifles on school grounds from this point forward,” Israel said in a Wednesday press conference.
"Schools as soft targets need to be fortified," said the Sheriff, who said that officers would safely secure weapons when not in use. "When they are not carrying the rifle, until we look for gun locks and gun lockers, the only place when they're not slinging the rifle, that will be allowed to be stored, will be in their locked police vehicle," Israel said.
The sheriff of the Florida county where a shooter killed 17 people at a high school last week has ordered all deputies who qualify to begin carrying rifles on school grounds. https://t.co/M0gteqMa6Z pic.twitter.com/qp5NpvJIcQ— KION News 5 46 (@KION546) February 21, 2018
When asked by a reporter if AR-15s will be carried, Israel said that some would. "It will be done safely," replied Israel, "We need to be able to defeat any threat that comes onto campus."
Israel also discussed the fact that Marjory Stoneman Douglas' School Resource Deputy was on campus the day of the shooting:
“Deputy Peterson was on campus. As you all know, he’s the School Resource Deputy. He was armed. As our command staff moves forward in this investigation the response and actions of Deputy Peterson will be looked at and scrutinized as will everyone.”
The Sheriff's full press conference can be viewed here.
Last week's shooting ignited a fierce debate over gun control, with several students from the Stoneman Douglas drama department making frequent appearances on national television to advocate for gun control.
On Monday, a group of teenagers who said they are "desperate for some action on gun control" staged a "lie-in" outside the White House - organized over Facebook by a group called Teens for Gun Reform.
"By doing this, we will make a statement on the atrocities which have been committed due to the lack of gun control, and send a powerful message to our government that they must take action now" the group stated in a post.
On Tuesday, students traveled to the Florida state capitol to urge lawmakers to outlaw assault weapons, however within hours the gun-friendly legislature struck down the motion.
“They’re voting to have shootings continually happen. These people who voted down the bill haven’t experienced what we did. I want to say to them, ‘It could be you,'” said 16-year-old Noah Kaufman said after traveling 400 miles to Tallahassee.
Students chant "SHAME ON YOU!” outside the Florida State Capitol after a bill to ban assault weapons was voted down. pic.twitter.com/v6AUG1pERL— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) February 21, 2018
And on Wednesday, grieving and concerned citizens sat down with President Trump for a discussion on gun control, where he advocated for more stringent background checks, and floated the notion of arming teachers to deal with active shooters.
"If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly, and the good thing about a suggestion like that -- and we're going to be looking at it very strongly, and I think a lot of people are going to be opposed to it. I think a lot of people are going to like it. But the good thing is you're going to have a lot of [armed] people with that," said the President.
"A gun-free zone to a maniac, because they're all cowards, a gun-free zone is 'let's go in and attack," said Trump. "I really believe if these cowards knew that the school was well-guarded from the standpoint of pretty much having professionals with great training, I think they wouldn't go into the schools to start with, it would pretty much solve your problem."
Trump's promise: "We're going to pick out the strongest ideas, the most important ideas, the ideas that are going to work and we're going to get them done. It's not going to be talk, like it's been in the past. It's gone on too long."— David Martosko (@dmartosko) February 21, 2018
As we previously noted, President Trump announced that he had directed the Justice Department to propose a ban on bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire much more rapidly - and which were used by Las Vegas shooting suspect Stephen Paddock.