Speaking at the annual meeting in Dallas, Donald Trump reaffirmed his support of arming teachers as a way to combat school violence. Apparently the NRA has made it their top priority. “Trump endorsed a top NRA priority to allow trained teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools and to install more armed security guards. Signs declaring a school as a gun-free zone, Trump said, were essentially invitations to attackers to ‘come in and take us’ (Washington Post).
“Your second amendment rights are under siege but they will never ever be under siege as long as I’m your president” (Washington Post).
Since the mass shooting in Florida, ironically Florida is the only state to support legislation to arm teachers. The school safety bill passed allows some employees, such as counselors and coaches, to become armed marshals. Twenty four other states have unsuccessfully tried to pass similar legislation.
The NRA supports teachers having guns because arming even a small fraction of the United States’ 3.2 million teachers would be a financial gain for gun makers (Washington Post).
In response to arming teachers, National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said, “The idea of arming teachers is ill-conceived, preposterous and dangerous. Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards, or receiving training to become sharpshooters” (NEA.org).
For a brief period of time, Trump tweeted support for stricter gun measures such as raising the legal age to purchase AR-15s and similar types of rifles to 21 and expanding background checks to guns sold at shows and online. However, his support was brief.
After meeting with members of the NRA, Trump was quick to back step support, instead calling for “more modest gun-related measures such as legislation to improve information sharing for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System” (Washington Post).
Eskelsen Garcia said, ““Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms. Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards, or receiving training to become sharpshooters” (NEA.org).
In the ill-fated interview on 60 Minutes, DeVos was vague when Lesley Stahl asked for her stance on arming teachers. First, she argued it “should be an option for states and communities to consider,” but went on to say that she would hesitate to think of “my first grade teacher, Mrs. Zoerhoff…having a gun and being trained in that way.” She then changed tack again, adding, “but for those who are capable, this is one solution that can and should be considered, but no one size fits all” (Fortune.com).
Results of a NEA Poll found teachers opposed to the idea of carrying guns. Among their findings:
82 percent, say they would not carry a gun in school, including sixty-three percent of NEA members who own a gun.
64 percent, say they would feel less safe if teachers and other educators were allowed to carry guns.
“The White House and Congress owe it those victims of gun violence and survivors across the country to work together to implement common sense solutions that really will save lives. We need to listen to them.”(NEA.org).
We used to be able to engage in conversations about controversial topics with respect – and agree to disagree. Now controversial issues are polarizing, with an attitude of, ‘I’m right, and you’re an idiot.’ I certainly have very strong opinions on this topic, and tend to share my opinions with like-minded individuals. I’ll admit it, it’s easier.
My hope is for more conversations to take place. Conversations. Dignified people who can come to a consensus; compromise. Lately that seems to be asking too much. High school students are reminding us how it’s done as they lead by example. We could all learn a thing or two from them. They’re inspiring.
These are my reflections for today.
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