More than 100 Pinellas County teachers have signed up for a four-hour course required to get a concealed weapons permit.
The class is offered by an instructor who has waived the usual $75 fee, because he knows teachers are struggling financially in the wake of budget cuts.
"I'm not advocating that teachers should take guns to school," firearms instructor Lenny Bogdanos told FOX 13 News, "All I'm saying is if you would like to learn about weapons, or a firearm, I'll teach you how to do it properly and safely."
He added "For Free" in an offer to Pinellas school teachers, and so far more than 100 of them have registered for a 4-hour course required to get a concealed weapon permit.
"I started out just trying to help a few teachers that I knew, and one referred to another one" Bogdanos said, later scrolling his emails. "We literally have hundreds of emails that I haven't responded to. And that's just today."
The instructor explained he has taught a handful of teachers in the past, waiving the fee because he knows budget cuts have most teachers struggling financially. If the interest keeps climbing, he says he'll adapt the course.
"I don't mind splitting it up onto two days," he said.
Florida law strictly prohibits anyone but law enforcement officers who are licensed security guards from bringing firearms onto school property. That prohibition makes sense to a hand full of parents queried outside one elementary school.
"My wife and son have concealed weapon permits and I've got a federal firearms license, but no, I don't think they should have guns in schools," Keith Samsel said, "Lock the doors, arm them with pepper spray -- that'll do the job."
Pinellas School Board chair Carol Cook has a similar opinion.
"They can carry when they're at the mall, out to dinner, in their own private personal life, and I don't have any problem with that," Cook said. "That's their choice and that's what they can do -- but not on school property."
Cook said she has had a concealed weapon permit for years, in large part because she visits family in rural Texas where encounters with snakes are not uncommon.
"I would never think to carry it in a school, because there are just too many other ways and I'm not going to be the one to hurt a child," Cook said.
Cook also hopes the Florida legislature does not remove the current weapons prohibition.
"There'd have to be a whole lot of training that went into it, there'd have to be rules and regulations as to how and when and where [weapons] would be stored. I mean, it opens up a whole can of worms," Cook said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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