Guns

Florida's new permitless carry law raises concerns for schools

On July 1, permitless carry will become law in Florida. That means no permit and no training will be needed to legally carry a concealed weapon.

A 'Stop The Bleed' emergency kit on display in the Martin County School District
A 'Stop The Bleed' kit on display in the Martin County School District in Florida
Scripps News West Palm Beach
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On July 1, permitless carry will become law in Florida. That means no permit and no training will be needed to legally carry a concealed weapon.

The new law will also bring about important new changes for school safety.

Martin County school leaders pride themselves on being ahead of the curve when it comes to school safety, and right now is no exception as new law is set to take effect in a matter of days."It's crazy people no longer need to apply for a permit," Martin County parent Caitlynne Palmieri said.

Gun safety is top of mind for Palmieri.

"We're kind of past the point of being scared. It's time for politicians to start taking — politicians down to our school board — to start supporting sensible gun legislation," Palmieri said.

Palmieri is frustrated with Florida's new permitless carry law.

Martin County School District's safety and security chief Frank Frangella said the legislation won't have much of an effect because schools remain gun-free zones.

"The only thing it does do is it drops the degree of the penalty," Frangella said. "So it goes from a felony to a misdemeanor if you are caught on campus."

More school safety changes are on the way. The state is revamping the threat assessment team structure that every district must follow.

Permitless carry goes into effect in Florida
Permitless carry goes into effect in Florida

Permitless carry goes into effect in Florida

They won't need a concealed weapons or firearms license to carry a gun.

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"Someone with direct knowledge of the child will now be required to be a part of the threat assessment process," Frangella said.

Frangella added this is something the Martin County School District was doing already, but now it's part of the state law.

"The goal of the threat assessment team is to find out what it is happening in that child's life. Let's help them. Let's get them the help they need so it doesn't progress to something that, unfortunately, would happen and there would be a threat or something worse," Frangella said. "It's an important step so this way, we know which way we should be focusing so we can get that child the help that they need."

In addition, the number of required active shooter drills drops from 10 to six per school year.

"What would be the advantage of dropping down?" Scripps News West Palm Beach education reporter Stephanie Susskind asked Frangella.

"I think that collaboratively throughout the state, we all mentioned that we are drilling too much," Frangella answered. "So we're having basically 22-plus drills a year if you count fire drills, active assailant drills, and weather drills, and we are an educational institution."

And there's more on the horizon in Martin County.

Frangella showed Scripps News West Palm Beach one of the new "Stop The Bleed" kits that every school will have come August for on-campus injuries or emergencies.

"There's a tourniquet, quick clot. There's bandages, gloves, anything you would need for any incident that happens," Frangella said.

Scripps News West Palm Beach

"For the first responders that come in, should there be an incident, it's on a belt. There's five kits in there. They put it on their back and respond to the incident," Frangella said.

Frangella is also expanding his department from one person to five, allowing for greater collaboration.

"Now I can tailor it and dial it down even further. So before it would be just me training the administrators. I would get to the staff members and I try to get to the students. Now I can go into that in more depth. I have more help. We can split the district and truly train all the way down to the students," Frangella said.

"What does it mean to you to be able to expand your department at a time like this?" Susskind asked Frangella.

"It means everything. I'm grateful I'm getting my department expanded," Frangella replied. "If we can't provide a safe learning environment, then nothing else happens. So we have to make sure the kids are safe, the staff is safe, so we can do what we are supposed to be doing: teaching. That's my job, to make sure we don't forget. We look at what happened at Stoneman Douglas and we look at what happened at Uvalde and the other incidents across the country, and we never want to forget that. That is the why. That's why we're doing it."

That's why Frangella is always looking ahead to what's next, and a larger team will help.

"We're doing it for us because we want to keep everybody safe," Frangella said. "Just so happens everything we have done the state has implemented. And we're already ahead of the curve."

This story was originally published by Stephanie Susskind at Scripps News West Pam Beach.