Florida sheriff to deploy armed officers to schools in wake of Parkland shooting

Jeremy B White
Sheriff Scott Israel addresses the news media outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: REUTERS/Thom Baur

The sheriff of a Florida county that endured America's latest school massacre has ordered his deputies to carry rifles on school campuses.

“Qualified and trained” officers “will be carrying rifles on school grounds from this point forwards”, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference.

The guns will be stored in police vehicles when officers are not carrying them, Mr Israel said. He said he had the support of the school district's superintendent, pledging that “it will be done safely”.

“We need to be able to defeat any threat that comes onto campus,” he said.

A gunman killed 17 students and teachers last week after opening fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

While some of the students who survived the massacre have emerged as vocal advocates for gun control, travelling to the statehouse in Tallahassee to urge a ban on assault weapons, others have advocated arming school personnel to defend against future shooters.

Donald Trump embraced the concept during a White House meeting with survivors of shootings and family members of victims.

“If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms they could very well end the attack very quickly,” Mr Trump said, pledging to examine the idea “very strongly”.