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03/15/2018

Gov. Malloy, Education Leaders Speak Out Against Pres. Trump's Proposal To Arm Teachers, Demand Action

(HARTFORD, CT) – A day after thousands of Connecticut students participated in the National School Walkout to demand legislation to combat gun violence, Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell, and representatives of organizations that represent Connecticut superintendents, boards of education, and principals today spoke out in strong opposition to President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm classroom teachers.

In a meeting with lawmakers on February 28, President Trump signaled his support for a broad package of gun reforms, including raising the age to purchase weapons, universal background checks, and a ‘red flag’ law that would allow law enforcement to remove deadly weapons from the possession of individuals who are deemed to present a threat to themselves or others. However, after a meeting with NRA lobbyists, the President put forward a package of reforms backed by the gun lobby that includes a proposal arm teachers and other school personnel.

“Yesterday, students in Connecticut and around the country raised their voice and spoke out in support of commonsense gun safety legislation,” Governor Malloy said. “It’s time for Republicans in Washington D.C. to listen to their constituents, to our students, and to our educators – not the gun lobbyists. The reality is that schools are not airports, or banks, or stadiums. They are places of learning and where our children grow and develop. That’s why President Trump’s plan to arm teachers is absolutely ludicrous and dangerous. Teaching is already a tremendously difficult job – without having the additional burden of simultaneously serving as an armed security officer, likely without adequate training.”

“More guns in schools do not make safer schools,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. “Our teachers and administrators are the experts in education, they’ve told us this and we should listen because they deserve our respect and our support. Making schools safer starts long before a gunman even gets to the doors. Better background checks, restrictions on civilian use of weapons of war, tools for law enforcement to intervene before a crisis – these initiatives are already at work in several states and a majority of Americans support them. They should be federal law.”

“The Trump plan is all talk and no action – all reality show rhetoric, and anemic non-action,” Senator Blumenthal said. “Arming teachers is an abhorrent response opposed by law enforcement, teachers, and students alike. Although I’m proud to be a leading co-sponsor of Fix NICS and the STOP School Violence Act, these bills only scratch the surface of what is necessary. President Trump seems to have received a permission slip from the NRA to express support for these bills, but no others. The President couldn’t even summon the political courage to propose raising the age limit on firearm purchases despite his repeated promises. If President Trump wants to prove his priority is the American people and not the NRA, he should state his unequivocal support for universal background checks, federal extreme risk protection orders, and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. A groundswell of grassroots energy – led by students – must move Congress to take meaningful action in the absence of presidential leadership.”

“All of us are left with feelings of profound sadness whenever news breaks of a school shooting; it is a jarring reminder of the shared responsibility we all have – parents, educators, administrators and policymakers – to ensure the safety and social emotional well-being of our young people,” Commissioner Wentzell said. “Under Governor Malloy’s leadership, all of the school security measures we have taken as a state, from investments in more secure infrastructure to utilizing school-based health and wellness centers, are crucial to fostering welcoming environments in which students are happy, healthy and ready to learn.”

“We acknowledge that policymakers who want to allow teachers and principals to carry firearms in schools may be well meaning,” Connecticut Association of Schools Executive Director Karissa Niehoff said. “However, as the professional organization for our state’s principals, we strongly oppose such policies. The primary responsibility of a school leader is to foster a safe, welcoming environment – for students, parents, and staff. We believe that arming principals and teachers undermines this responsibility and compromises school safety instead of enhancing it.”

“As the home of the most horrific tragedy in the nation’s schools, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education does not support the arming of teachers as a ‘solution’ to these events,” Connecticut Association of School Boards Executive Director Robert Rader said. “We believe that more support for mental health awareness, a focus on school climate and sensible gun controls, are a safer, more practical answer than giving teachers guns.”

“CAPSS strongly advocates for safe schools throughout our nation and believes that Connecticut has been a leader in school safety in all areas,” Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents Executive Director Frances Rabinowitz said. “We do not believe or support arming teachers.”

The Governor also reiterated his call for legislative action to ban bump stocks and fund another round of school security grants. Connecticut has spent more than invested $53 million in improving school safety since 2013.

“This is a no-brainer,” the Governor continued. “Bump stocks and other rate of fire enhancements allow guns to fire at machine gun-like speeds and have no place in our state. Florida rightly banned these cheap and deadly items just last week, and Connecticut should follow suit on a bipartisan basis without delay. In addition, we should authorize additional funding for school security upgrades. We have made real improvements in the past five years, but we can do more. Nothing is more important than ensuring a safe and welcoming learning environment for our children.”

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Juliet Manalan
Communications Director
Office of Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman
(o) 860.524.7377
(m) 860.913.7528

portal.ct.gov/ltgovernor
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