American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten slammed President Donald Trump for his pro-armed teachers remarks at a National Rifle Association event.
One of the NRA’s top goals is to allow trained teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom and add more armed security guards to schools around the country. Trump is a fan of that proposal and parroted a familiar talking point about how gun-free zones are invitations to potential attackers to harm children.
“They love their students and they’re not going to let anybody hurt their students. But you have to give them a chance,” said Trump at the rally. “In America, we trust the people to be wise and good…that is why in America, we’ve always trusted the people to keep and bear arms.”
That did not sit well with Weingarten.
“Gun violence now kills more young people in our country than car accidents,” said Weingarten in a statement. “Instead of being a champion for children and working to fight our nation’s gun violence epidemic, the president wants more guns in schools regardless of the consequences.”
Nine states, including New York, have enacted laws that ban domestic abusers from purchasing guns. Florida’s law came after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14 of this year.
“The president should be a cheerleader for students, parents and educators, not for the NRA and gun manufacturers,” stated Weingarten. “President Trump continues to call for arming teachers and school staff with guns, but he’s been completely silent when it comes to what educators have asked to be armed with—the respect and resources they need to teach students.”
New York’s state government is pushing for more gun reform as well. A New York State Senate bill (S.8308), sponsored by New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris, would require state law enforcement agencies to publish specified data online about the source of guns used in crimes around the state. Last month, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school massacre, activists around the country engaged in a National Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools. While Trump told the crowd at the NRA rally that their Second Amendment rights were “under siege,” a statement from the New York State United Teachers wanted the powers that be to know that children felt they were the ones under siege.
“When we hear the long roll call—Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Marshall County, Parkland and, literally, too many others to list—our hearts break for the victims and communities scarred by gun violence,” read NYSUT’s statement. “Through our tears and anger, however, our resolve is unwavering. We demand that our leaders do more to protect schools and children from gun violence. We need real, concrete action and we need it immediately. Today, we stand with all those who are lifting their voices to declare: ‘Enough.’”