MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A school in the Tampa Bay area is the first in the country to have armed guardians carrying long guns.
Manatee School of the Arts is a charter school in Palmetto. Its board can independently hire and decide what type of weapon they want their guardians to carry.
Principal Bill Jones said he wanted guardians to carry a weapon that will immediately stop an intruder and threat.
“You have to ask yourself a question. Why would I not equip the guardian with at least the equivalent firepower that someone is very likely to walk in the door with?” Jones said.
All schools in Florida are mandated to have a guardian on campus after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.
Jones said they interviewed 600 applicants. Administrators decided on two men, both veterans. Both were still required to complete guardian training with the sheriff’s office.
The style of gun they’re carrying is called a Bullpup.
Jones said he received support from staff, parents and students when it came to the type of guns the guards would carry.
“I’ve got 2,100 kids that I’m responsible for for the safety of and I don’t have time to have this leisurely conversation about gosh, we should do this or we should do that. Not today,” he said. “Parents expect their kids are gonna go to school and be safe and here’s the reality, as much as we hate to face it, but that’s what the whole Parkland thing is about. It happens.”
Manatee County School district has no comment on the issue.
One guard is currently working on campus. The second is expected to join after training this week.