USA: Educator unions reject guns in schools
an article by Education International
The national affiliates of Education International (EI), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), have strongly rejected the conclusions of a report released by the National Rifle Association (NRA) task force. The report calls for armed police officers, security guards or staff members in every American school, and urges states to loosen gun restrictions to allow trained teachers and administrators to carry weapons.
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Among the recommendations in the 225-page study unveiled on 2 April are also better co-ordination with law enforcement agencies and online security assessments for schools. One of the study’s central conclusions is that “the presence of armed security personnel adds a layer of security and diminishes response time” in a shooting.
“Today's NRA proposal is a cruel hoax that will fail to keep our children and schools safe,” AFT President Randi Weingarten denounced. The proposals are “designed to assist gun manufacturers” to sell more weapons and ammunition to Americans, she added.
“The senseless tragedy in Newtown was a tipping point and galvanisation for action,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “As educators, we have grieved too long and too often - for the children killed, their families and heroic educators. Now more than ever we need to do what is necessary, including enacting stronger laws to prevent gun violence, to make sure every child in our nation’s public schools has a safe and secure learning environment.”
NEA also polled 800 of its members nationwide during the period of 9-10 January. Results of this poll show that 90 per cent of educators support stronger gun laws to prevent gun violence and keep children safe. Educators resoundingly reject the notion of arming school employees. Sixty-six per cent of NEA members support a proposal to ban the sale and possession of military-style semi-automatic assault weapons to everyone except the police and military.
“Schools should be safe places of learning and sanctuary, where children are encouraged to grow and develop to their full potential, not places of mindless violence in which their young lives are cut short,” said EI General secretary Fred van Leeuwen. He also stressed that in the past five years, the education community has been confronted too often, and in too many countries, with senseless acts of violence against students, educators and school employees. Although it may not be possible to prevent every act of violence, public authorities of all nations should at least take measures to limit and regulate the access which citizens have to weapons generally and, in particular, enforce effective gun control.
The NRA study comes amid a national debate on gun control after 26 people, including 20 children, were killed in a primary school shooting in Connecticut last December. Since this massacre, the states of Colorado and New York have adopted strict gun control measures, while Connecticut should soon do the same. Federal gun control legislation, meanwhile, has stalled in Congress due to a strong opposition from the NRA and its allies in the US Senate.
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Under pressure from the gun lobby, especially the National Rifle Association, on April 18, the Senate of the United States failed to pass a law designed to control the sale of guns such as those used in the Newtown massacre. Here are excerpts from the account on Democracy Now.
Senate Kills Gun Reform with Defeat of Every Key Measure
The Senate has sparked widespread outrage after defeating every major gun reform measure on the table. One by one, proposals unveiled since December’s Newtown shooting massacre failed to reach the 60-vote threshold in a Wednesday vote: a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, a bipartisan compromise on expanding background checks in gun purchases, and new penalties for illegal gun trafficking.
Obama Decries "Shameful Day" After Senate Defeat of Gun Control
At the White House, President Obama stood with a group of gun violence victims and their families to denounce the senators — including some Democrats — who defeated the proposals.
President Obama: "The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. A minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked commonsense gun reforms, even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to pull the overall gun-control bill from the Senate floor later today.
Calling the vote a "shameful day" on Capitol Hill, President Obama vowed to redouble his efforts for gun reform.
President Obama: "This was a pretty shameful day for Washington. But this effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people don’t give up on it. . ...more.