Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on proposals to reduce gun violence and create safe schools and communities:
“The tragic events of Newtown must serve as a clarion call for immediate action to keep our communities safe from gun violence and ensure schools are the safe sanctuaries our children need to learn and grow. We applaud President Obama and Vice President Biden for heeding this call for action with a series of common-sense, balanced proposals that will make our nation safer, including:
Banning the sale of the kind of large ammunition clips that were used to massacre 26 children and adults and injure others at Sandy Hook Elementary School;Expanding background checks before purchasing a gun and cracking down on those who lie on background checks;Cracking down on illegal gun trafficking;Banning assault weapons that have no other use but to kill a large number of people quickly;Enforcing current gun laws and investing in research around combating gun violence; andInvesting in mental health services.
“Schools across our country are in desperate need of resources to create safe, secure and nurturing learning environments, and we are glad the president has recognized that need. Some schools, due to their remoteness or following horrendous tragedies such as the massacre in Newtown, may decide that appropriately trained police officers are necessary. Other schools may decide instead that more school guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists are needed. These decisions should be made by individual school communities following safety audits.
“Under no circumstances should educators have the responsibility of being armed, and schools should not become armed fortresses. The role of educators is to teach and nurture our children, not to be armed guards.
“In times of great tragedy, Americans have always come together to grieve, to support one another, and to act—to put aside what divides us and take collective action to heal and move our nation forward. Too many of our children have had their lives cut short and their futures denied by gun violence—in their schools and in their communities. We have a set of effective proposals and now we must find the political will to get it done.”
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