Story updated to reflect that Florida has no specific school system mandates against this alternative weapon
Flynn Elementary School / Miami and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School / Parkland
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to order a task force Wednesday to consider proposals for firearms policies that prevent schools from being locked down, according to two people briefed on the meeting.
DeSantis, a Florida Republican, will also say Wednesday that he plans to seek no mandate restricting Florida schools from enforcing campus lockdowns, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the meeting before the public announcement.
Although the Florida State Legislature has passed stricter gun laws in recent years after the deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a Democrat-controlled legislature approved a law, which Florida’s Republican governor has also said he supports, that prevents the state from seizing guns from anyone who has completed a gun safety course. The law also bans local governments from adopting stricter gun policies.
DeSantis will only leave a lock down instruction provision for the task force to consider, the people briefed on the meeting said.
“It was never the intention to lock down schools in Florida,” state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, the Republican chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Education, told CNN. “And I’m going to make that very clear.”
“I don’t think that lock down is a solution in all cases,” she said. “There may be a circumstance where you could lock a school down for the safety of the students, but I think that that’s a tool that can be utilized appropriately when every other tool is not. That’s not just going to apply to the school district that my district is a part of, it’s going to apply to the school district that’s across the state, and I don’t think that’s the right solution to that problem.”
DeSantis said he wants the task force to examine all aspects of weapons policies, including the access of people on the no-fly list and how to identify dangerous individuals in the schools.
A DeSantis spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but a text message to a state GOP official, Ann-Marie Lurie, said the governor would “not be advocating for any particular policies, but simply seeking recommendations from the state task force.”
How students responded
Flynn Elementary School students told CNN on Monday they didn’t want more guns on campus.
Miranda Nogara, a sixth-grader, said she was not interested in banning guns but instead thought stricter gun laws needed to be implemented.
“You know how kids can be super clever and read and think things?” Nogara asked. “I wouldn’t really like to bring a gun on school grounds to kill people. I think maybe we need stricter gun laws.”
She said she had not been told she would have a say in any future gun policy.
“I mean I’m sorry if there are any school shootings, I’m really sad for that, and obviously nobody wants that, but I don’t know, I just don’t know. It’s hard to say,” Nogara said.
Madison Finson, also a sixth-grader, told CNN she will be happy if her schools are not locked down, even if it prevents her from seeing the person responsible for a shooting.
“It’s crazy that guns are not part of our lives now, because it used to be our lives every single day. We would walk to school and everything, and so if it’s not going to happen anymore, I just feel sad,” Finson said.
Finson said she wants schools to make sure people who are suspected of being dangerous can be monitored better.
“I mean people just get on campus and they’ll start shooting people, and they’ll just do it randomly,” Finson said. “There’s a guy right there, I saw him; but I can’t keep my eyes on him. I need somebody that’s going to be watching him at all times, which is probably just more scary, like these people are just horrible people.”
Most students said they will continue to participate in marches, read books and ask for changes to gun laws.
“I think it’s good to change stuff, especially at school. I don’t want somebody shooting here at Flynn Elementary because it’s going to be bad for everybody. Everyone could be involved,” a student named Maddie said.
CNN’s Mark Alford, Becca Aaronson, Erich Loignon, Julie Bykowicz, Ashley Fantz, Robert Handa, Courtney Friedman, Kyoungwha Kim,