BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – The father of a 14-year old girl killed in the 2018 Parkland massacre is training in Polk County to become the state’s first honorary guardian.
“I made a promise that I wouldn’t let what happened to my little daughter Alaina happen to anybody else’s child,” he said through tears.
Ryan Petty remembers Alaina as a sweet, kind-hearted young lady.
“I really wanted to see her grow up because I knew she was going to be amazing and I won’t have that opportunity,” he said.
She was one of 17 people killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018.
Some of her classmates and parents of other victims have come out of this tragedy with gun control reform as their mission. They have inspired large swaths of the nation in their “March for Our Lives” initiative.
For example, the Twitter bio for Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, reads: “I will dedicate the rest of my life to the cause of gun safety.”
Ryan Petty tells 8 On Your Side he supports mental health background checks for firearms sales but opposes an assault rifle ban.
“I’m convinced that the shooter targeted that school because he understood that he would meet little or no resistance,” he said. “One gun is better than no guns. Two guns are better than one gun. Three is better than two. We learned that clearly from what happened in Parkland.”
Florida’s new and controversial guardian program allows school personnel to voluntarily undergo firearms training and be armed at school.
Because Petty doesn’t work at a school, he’s training in Polk County to be an honorary guardian. He’s been training for nine hours a day for two and a half weeks.
Petty believes Polk County offers one of the state’s best programs and asked Sheriff Grady Judd if it was possible to participate.
They were both appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which looked into the shooting and how to improve school safety.
“You can read about it on a piece of paper. But now being a couple of weeks into it, I understand it on a whole new level. It is not easy,” said Petty about the training.
Sheriff Judd said Petty is “all in.”
“He has gone through and is doing every minute of the guardian program. We’re not enhancing it for him. We’re not giving him a free ride because he’s Ryan Petty. He’s doing everything that’s required of our guardians,” said Sheriff Judd.
If he passes, Petty is expected to be sworn in as an honorary guardian by the end of July.