Webber International University has become the second college in Florida to join a voluntary program which would allow trained staff members to carry firearms on campus. Last week, the university announced that it would participate in the “Sentinel Program” after forming a partnership with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, according to FOX 13.
According to the Sentinel Program’s project description, staffers who wish to participate in the program “will be given 100 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training for the purpose of providing security on campus during an active assailant incident.”
However, Florida laws only allow law enforcement officials to carry firearms on campus. To bypass this guideline, participants will be given the title of volunteer “Special Deputies,” and will have “no authority to act in any law enforcement capacity outside of an active assailant incident on campus.”
“We’re gonna send the message to those people that you’re not coming onto a campus being the only person on the campus with a firearm,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in a statement first reported by Fox 13. “Gun control is clearly in place on school campuses in the state of Florida. How did that work last week in Broward County?”
According to the description of the Sentinel Program, the required 100 hours of firearm training provides “25 percent more instruction than the standard that is required for certified law enforcement officers,” and each participant “will also be required to complete 32 hours of deadly force training.”
“Everyone just has to ask themselves that question: My babies, your babies, are in that classroom and that active shooter is coming down the hallway with that thousand-yard stare and that gun in their hand,” said Sheriff Judd. “Do you want somebody to step out and stop him? Or do you want him to go into that classroom and slaughter your babies? That’s where we are with that issue today.”
Webber International University follows in the footsteps of Southeastern University, who announced that they would participate in the Sentinel Program last year. Webber has become the second college in the state of Florida to announce their participation in a program to arm volunteer staff members in case of an active shooter situation.
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, 98.4% of all mass shootings occurred in “gun free zones” during the period of 1950 to July 10, 2016. Similarly, between January 1998 and December 2015, 96.2% of all mass shootings has taken place within a gun free zone.
President Donald J. Trump sent out a tweet on February 24th of this year, endorsing the idea of having “armed educators” in schools as both a deterrent and response to an active shooter situation.
Trump tweeted, “Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again – a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.”