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Survey: More Than Half Of Floridians Support Trained Staff Carrying Guns In Schools


The latest portion of the Sunshine State Survey is out and focuses on education, transportation and health.

The survey is a joint effort by University of South Florida political scientist Susan MacManus and research firm Nielsen.  

A key finding was that more than half of Floridians surveyed support trained staff being allowed to carry guns at public schools.

WUSF went to downtown Tampa during the lunch hour to locals about the results:

"I feel that if they’re trained then they should be able to carry it because you have untrained people carrying weapons and bringing them into schools and shooting people,” said Tampa resident Jermaine Barrett.

"I think somebody should be there because you can't have a cop everywhere all the time,” said Tampa resident Dominic Pafundi.

"The less firearms out there, the better,” said Tampa resident Fran Lavandara. “Teachers aren't infallible and they have tempers and some of them are dealing with very difficult children and I think it's a recipe for disaster."

Another finding is that 76 percent of Floridians surveyed think universities should not support study abroad programs in countries with known terrorist activity.

“I don't think we need kids over in countries that aren't secure,” said Tampa resident Fran Lavandara.

"It should be up to the student if they really want to go, it might not be too bright in my opinion, but it's their choice,” said Tampa resident Dominic Pafundi.

"I feel like it's ultimately the student's choice to go into those countries if they so desire to so I'm not necessarily opposed to it,” said Bradenton resident Tyler Wolf.

Other findings from this portion of the survey:


  • State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Requiring Elementary Schools to Have 20 Minutes of Recess Daily - More than 80 percent of Floridians believe ordering elementary schools to have 20 minutes of recess daily is moving in the “right direction.” Only 5 percent opposed and 14 percent did not express an opinion.


  • State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Imposing Heavier Fines for Texting When Driving – 87 percent of Florida adults view imposing heavier fines for texting while driving as moving the state in the “right direction” and only 7 percent see it going in the “wrong direction.” 
  • State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Creating More Urban Highway Toll Lanes – The change is seen as going in the “right direction” by 30 percent of Floridians while 20 percent have no opinion. 
  • Improving Traffic Flow – Synchronization of traffic lights identified as the top priority in improving traffic flow (40 percent) followed by building more lanes (23 percent).  Improving the bus system was preferred by 14 percent and building light rail was 13 percent with light rail favored by residents of the Tampa Bay, Orlando, and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale areas.  


  • State Performance Ensuring Safe Drinking Water – 52 percent of the state’s population gives the state either “good” or “excellent” marks for ensuring safe drinking water. Only 17 percent rate as “poor” and 28 percent rate as “fair.”
  • State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Banning Use of Smokeless Tobacco and E-Cigarettes in Public Places – 54 percent of Florida adults see the state going in the “right direction” by banning use of smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes in smoke-free public places. 
  • State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Increasing Smoking Age from 18 to 21 – 57 percent see increasing the smoking to age to 21 as a move in the “right direction” compared to 22 percent as seeing the state moving in the “wrong direction.” 


  • Using Government Money to Build/Renovate Private Sports Facilities – More than 80 percent of Floridians oppose using government money to renovate sports facilities used by privately-owned teams. 
  • State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Regulating Fantasy Sports as Gambling– Four out of 10 Floridians do not have an opinion on regulating fantasy sports as gambling which indicates a high level of unfamiliarity with the issue. Increasing regulation was seen as going in the “wrong direction” by 36 percent and 24 percent see it as going in the “right direction.”

The seven most-cited issues in the survey this year are economy and jobs, environment, crime and policing, education and schools, health care, government officials and immigration.
The next set of survey results is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

That portion will focus on trust in government, state leadership and livability in Florida.

Results of this survey are based on 1,248 telephone interviews conducted by The Nielsen Company Sept. 1-19, 2016 with a random sample of adults, aged 18 and older, residing in Florida households.

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