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Teachers respond to NRA call for guns in schools

NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 1/4/2013, 4:01 p.m.
Ban assault weapons, launch an assault on poverty

"Armed guards in schools? We're not protecting them. We're robbing them," charged a principal of a Brooklyn elementary school who did want to be named, but was outraged by the National Rifle Association's proposal to have armed teachers and armed guards in every school in the nation.

Anti-gun-violence advocates who have fought for decades to have inner-city gun violence addressed almost popped a blood vessel when, in the wake of last month's fatal shooting of 20 first-graders in Connecticut, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and like-minded supporters called for the introduction of armed teachers and strapped retired officers in every American school.

While New Jersey's Marlboro school district began 2013 with a single armed officer patroling the school, the Fort Greene elementary school principal noted, "Several years ago, we had a staff member who began to display signs of instability. The teacher became delusional, and even accused another staff member of being the devil. Imagine that teacher with a gun?

"Our children deserve to be protected with love, guidance and appropriate discipline, not armed guards. What are we turning our schools into?"

"I am vehemently opposed to armed teachers in schools under any circumstances," school principal Adolfo Muhammad told the Amsterdam News. "I believe it exceeds the acceptable amount of power vested in the profession and helps to cultivate the violent nature of the proliferation of guns in America."

The principal of Bed-Stuy's Bedford Academy continued, explaining, "I am not opposed to police being in schools, as long as they are community-centered and have a healthy respect for the students and parents and community that they are working in. It would help to break the internal colony theory of the police being an occupying force as opposed to being community partners."

After LaPierre's pseudo-press conference a few days after the Lanza massacre, the outcry was immediate, even as LaPierre adamantly defended his position in the press.

"What if when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School ... he'd been confronted by qualified armed security?" asked LaPierre. "Will you at least admit it's possible that 26 little kids, that 26 innocent lives might have been spared that day?"

LaPierre rationalized his proposition by saying, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Mouths agape, lay people, politicians and activists alike were shocked that as the funerals of the 26 people killed by Lanza were proceeding, LaPierre's first statements still embraced the controversial policies of the NRA.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten slammed Pierre's "irresponsible" policy, stating, "Schools must be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses."

Chancellor Dennis Walcott was affronted by the NRA's suggestion. In an emailed statement, he told the AmNews, "A safe learning environment for our students is one of our top priorities. As the largest school district in the country, we know what works. The NRA is wrong. Putting an armed guard in every school building is not the answer. Our schools are safer today than they've been in more than a decade thanks to our collaboration with the NYPD, reforms to our discipline code to promote safety, anti-bullying and peer mediation programs, and work to remove illegal guns from the street."