Florida reps split on proposal to arm teachers

Two Florida congressional representatives on Sunday signaled a wide rift remains between lawmakers who agree Congress should take action to try and prevent future school shootings.

Reps. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchHouse panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales Whitaker takes grilling from House lawmakers Parkland father on Gaetz advocating for border wall in gun violence hearing: 'Pretty offensive' MORE (D-Fla.) and Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastDems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland House panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales House Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 MORE (R-Fla.) have both called for changes to gun laws after a gunman killed 17 people and injured more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

“The shift to arming teachers is a distraction. It’s a distraction from the important discussion about all the things that can be done this week when we go back to Washington,” Deutch, whose district includes Parkland, said on CBS' "Face The Nation."

ADVERTISEMENT

He suggested Congress should instead take action on improving mental health services, banning bump stocks and prohibiting individuals on the terrorist watch list from buying a weapon.

Mast, however, said he thinks certain teachers, particularly those with past military service or a law enforcement background, could be good candidates to carry weapons in schools.

“I think some teachers are the right candidates for this, absolutely, that have had the right training, that have the desire for this,” Mast said.

“But teachers are people too,” he added, noting they’re capable of making mistakes such as leaving a weapon laying out.

Mast, a retired staff sergeant in the Army, said Friday he supports banning assault weapons. Despite a lack of Republican support for the proposal, Mast said Sunday he’s hopeful he can get President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE on board with the idea.

Trump has in recent days repeatedly proposed arming teachers as a way to prevent future school shootings. He has suggested those willing to carry a firearm could receive a bonus for doing so, and called arming teachers a "big & very inexpensive deterrent" to school shootings.

He also indicated he will support raising the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic weapons to 21.

Democrats have overwhelmingly opposed the idea of arming teachers, and multiple Republicans have said they disagree with the idea.