The head of a Florida school safety commission that just recommended arming teachers appeared on the National Rifle Association’s television station to discuss the panel’s newly released report, sparking criticism from parents of students killed in February at a Parkland, Fla., high school and from survivors of the shooting.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, appeared on NRATV to discuss the report (see video below). Another panel member, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, has been on NRATV several times.
The commission was established by the Florida legislature after the Feb. 14 killings of 14 students and three staff members at Stoneman Douglas High. Its report was released last week, slamming the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s school system for failing to have appropriate procedures to deal with a shooter.
The appearance of Gualtieri on NRATV was highlighted by the organization on its Twitter feed:
According to the Miami Herald:
On Grant Stinchfield’s NRA TV program, in which the host lobbied his audience to support Republicans in the 2020 elections to preserve the Second Amendment, Judd said he helped change Gualtieri’s position on arming teachers.
“Gualtieri is a dear friend and chairs the commission I’m on,” Judd said on NRA TV. “While I established this position early on, Bob originally really was not comfortable with that. But as I worked with him — and he and I are dear friends and on several committees together — and the research we developed through this shooting, it was abundantly evident that teachers, not all teachers, those that wanted to and were capable of and who had completed thorough training, could have and would have saved lives that day.”
Gun-control advocates responded to the appearances with concern. Student activist David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, raised the issue of how partisan the panel was, saying in this tweet:
Fred Guttenberg, the father of a teen killed during the shooting, also expressed concern on Twitter about the appearances of Gualtieri and Judd on NRATV:
One parent of a student killed in the shooting supported the sheriffs' appearances on NRATV. That was Andrew Pollack, who was just named to the state’s Board of Education by outgoing Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). Pollack endorsed Scott in his successful 2018 bid for a U.S. Senate seat. He supports arming teachers.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), whose district includes Parkland, criticized the appearances:
Here’s a video from NRATV with Gualtieri and show host Dana Loesch: