Rick Scott to propose federal legislation to place armed officers on every school campus

Orlando Sentinel | By Lisa J. Huriash | April 25, 2023

U.S. Senator Rick Scott said Tuesday he is proposing federal legislation that would require armed law enforcement at “every single school across the country.”

“Everyone in that school ought to be safe,” said Scott, speaking at a news conference in Collier County. “Every parent expects their child to come home alive, safe and healthy.”

Scott wants to pay for it by diverting resources earmarked to strengthen the Internal Revenue Service in the Inflation Reduction Act passed last year. That legislation includes $70 billion in funding for the recruitment of 87,000 Internal Revenue Service positions of various roles, including new agents.

“We don’t need them,” Scott declared of the agents, a move that he has previously criticized. “We don’t need those IRS agents.”

Scott’sbill will be called the School Guardian Act and would include requirements for private schools, citing the shooting at a Christian school last month in Nashville where three children and three adults were murdered.

Scott was flanked by parents of two children who died in the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland in 2018, a massacre that left 17 dead. Scott was governor at the time.

One of those parents, Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter, said the bill was “incredibly important” because “if we can’t prevent them, then we know having an armed response on campus is the fastest way to stop the killing, to stop these attacks from happening.”

“Nothing we teach them in that classroom matters if they don’t make it home,” he said.

The other parents, Tom and Gena Hoyer, who lost their son, said it was needed so teachers and students know their safety is a priority.

“No family should endure the heartbreak that we still go through to this day,“ Tom Hoyer said.

Last year, Democrats argued that the move to beef up the IRS was intended to help go after corporations and people who earn more than $400,000 a year, and that it would more than pay for itself by bringing in tax money people are supposed to pay but have been evading because of lagging enforcement.

Democrats accused Republicans of wanting to protect corporate America and ultra-wealthy individuals who are avoiding taxes.

But Republicans insisted it would target the middle class. Among the Republicans who had sought to use the new IRS agents as a political cudgel are Scott.

Shortly after the Senate passed the additional funding for the IRS in the Inflation Reduction Act, Scott said the new agents would be out to “target every American.”

Although the money for the IRS has already been allocated, “it’s within Congress’ power to take money that has already been appropriated and awaiting to be spent and reallocate to some other purpose,” said Gregory Koger, a political science professor specializing in Congress at the University of Miami.

The bill is supported by Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk who said it provides the resources for school districts to pay for it. “When it comes to school safety, there is no substitute for having a law enforcement officer on a school campus, armed, trained and committed to stop a threat,” he said.

Because of the Parkland tragedy, Scott also said Florida’s law requires every school to have an armed person at every public school campus in Florida whether that is law enforcement officer or an armed guardian.

Such legislation could be broadened to the rest of the country.

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