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ALA and NRA Join Together

Florida, the state whose gun laws made George Zimmerman famous, is trying to figure out how to respond to its latest mass shooting. One reaction is Senate Bill 7026, which the ALA and AASL don’t like.

The bill sounds innocuous enough. It’s about “public safety,” and appropriates $400 million to this:

authorizing the awarding of grants through the Crime Stoppers Trust Fund for student crime watch programs; establishing the Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education; providing that each sheriff may establish a Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program and appoint certain volunteer school employees as school guardians; prohibiting a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or been committed to a mental institution from owning or possessing a firearm until certain relief is obtained; prohibiting a person younger than a certain age from purchasing a firearm; prohibiting specified acts relating to the sale and possession of bump-fire stocks; creating the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission within the Department of Law Enforcement, etc.

That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Who wants mentally defective persons “younger than a certain age” buying bump stocks? The lobby for that group has got to be small, except for the NRA.

The ALA says the bill would “would permit librarians, counselors, and coaches to carry firearms in Florida Public Schools,” which is the part they don’t like. And yes, that’s true, sort of.

The way it’s worded, the ALA press release implies that random librarians and coaches would just be able to strap on a gun and go forth standing their ground. But it’s a little more complicated than that.

If you look at the text of the bill, you can see just how much more complicated.

The bill allows a sheriff to “Establish, if the sheriff so chooses, a Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to aid in the prevention or abatement of active assailant incidents on school premises.”

The “guardian program” is what the ALA objects to. Note, though, that first the sheriff has to choose to allow one in a school. It’s Florida, so probably the sheriff’s will be fine with more guns in schools, but that’s still a barrier.

However, it’s a small barrier compared to what a “guardian” has to go through before being allowed to carry a firearm. Here’s the abbreviated list from the bill. Guardians have to:

  1. Hold a valid license issued under s.790.06.

  2. Complete 132 total hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training conducted by Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission-certified instructors….

  3. Pass a psychological evaluation administered by a psychologist licensed under chapter 490 and designated by the Department of Law Enforcement and submit the results of the evaluation to the sheriff’s office….

  4. Submit to and pass an initial drug test and subsequent random drug tests in accordance with the requirements of s.112.0455 and the sheriff’s office.

  5. Successfully complete ongoing training, weapon inspection, and firearm qualification on at least an annual basis.

  6. Successfully complete at least 12 hours of a certified nationally recognized diversity training program.

Yes, this does technically permit librarians to carry guns, but it’s not exactly carte blanche.

You can object to the presence of guns at all, either in society or in schools, but if there are going to be guns in either, and there are, I could think of worse ways to go about it, like probably any way the current President might come up with.

A psych evaluation, drug test, diversity training, and comprehensive and continuous firearms training? Whoever passes all those requirements is probably more qualified to carry a gun than they are to coach or be a librarian.

If we could depend on a psych evaluation to weed out the psychos who want to carry big guns to make up for their psychological and emotional inadequacies, this bill might not be too bad. That’s a big if, though.

One issue isn’t whether the bill would “permit” librarians and coaches to carry firearms, but how many would want to go through all that hassle?

They could go through all the hassle, and still not do any good because they would fear, rightly, that in a real shooter situation with police involved, they’d be likely to be shot themselves.

And if they merely used the guns to defend themselves rather than actively intervene, they’d be criticized like that sheriff’s deputy who didn’t intervene at Stoneman Douglas High School.

One thing the bill doesn’t address and can’t guarantee: that armed librarians or anyone else would actually do any good.

Being a drug free, psychologically sound, well trained person competently able to fire a gun doesn’t qualify or prepare you for intervention the way police training does. Of those 132 hours of comprehensive training, there are only “Eight hours of instruction in active shooter or assailant scenarios.”

That seems unlikely to inspire confidence in the rest of the school.

At this point, it doesn’t matter anyway. In typically useless fashion, the ALA opposed the bill last Thursday, it was signed into law on Friday, and is already being challenged by the NRA.

Thus, we have a state law that both the ALA and the NRA oppose. That has to be a first.

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Comments

  1. Peter Ward says:

    Floridia is desparately reaching for an answer to this horrible tragedy from state government. And ALA has been handed a reason to live from the Sunshine State. Meanwhile violence continues to grow. A sad turn of events.

  2. We're toast...Mmmm toast says:

    It is shocking I tell you, when ideological purist and like-minded organizations who hold opposite political and cultural views end up acting like each other…NOT! In this day and age the gun debate is not about guns, it’s part of the identity politics at the heart of our culture war(s). So logic is the first causality and we all end up victims, albeit standing on different rugs of the intersectionality ladder I guess.

    A humorous look at this disjointed and cognitive dissonant take on gun laws can be found on the blog of Scot Adam’s, the creator of Dilbert cartoons.

    I expect more of this type of thing moving forward as it seems now the US population, well-educated librarians included, have decided to stop thinking and start emoting our politics, which can only be good for democracy in the long run….

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