It’s been five months since the Valentine’s Day massacre that left 17 dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and since then, a groundswell of survivors and victims’ loved ones have rallied to end gun violence in schools.
That includes Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter, Meadow Pollack, was killed in the shooting. Pollack advocated for the passage of a bill that requires every school in Florida to appoint law enforcement officers or armed “guardians.” Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law in early March. “It means a lot to me because all of these kids are going to be safer at the start of the school year,” Pollack said during an interview with FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto on Saturday.
The gun control debate in the U.S. has been revitalized since suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, killing 17 people with an AR-15-style rifle that he’d legally obtained. Cruz, a former student who was expelled from the school, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is being held without bail. The motive behind the shooting remains unclear.
After the shooting, reports emerged that an armed school resource deputy remained outside of the building as the massacre unfolded inside and never fired his weapon. Scot Peterson, an ex-Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputy, has since resigned. Pollack filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him.
“I’m on a mission to make these schools safer,” he said. “And I’m seeing it come full circle. The fruit of my work, I’m seeing what’s happening. The kids in Florida are going to be a lot safer come the start of the school year.”
The month-long program -- which Pollack said is filled with veterans and retired law enforcement members -- requires volunteers to undergo 140 hours of training, including active-shooter simulators. Already, 35% of the class has dropped out, according to Pollack.
The group understands not to take the class lightly: During the inaugural class, Pollack said the Polk County sheriff addressed the class.
“It’s something I’m never going to forget,” he said. “He said, ‘When you’re at work and you see someone coming into that school and they’re ready to hurt or kill one of our kids or teachers, I want you to shoot them graveyard dead. And if you can’t shoot them graveyard dead, then we don’t want you in this program and the door’s over there, and this job is not for you.’”