On February 14, 2018, 17 people were massacred Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, US. Donald Trump had a recommendation: arm the teachers in future.
The US President, having been endorsed by the National Rifle Association in his 2016 election campaign, sparked worldwide debate with his proposal.
Fortunately, in what seems like a miracle, some positive gun-related news has come out of America – New York state legislators have ruled out arming educators.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today (August 1) signed a bill which prevents school districts from permitting teachers and administrators to carry guns on school grounds.
As reported by The New York Times, Cuomo said:
The answer to the gun violence epidemic plaguing this country has never been and never will be more guns.
The new bill, which was passed in January this year as part of larger gun-control measures, still allows for licensed school security officials and law enforcement officers to carry firearms. Cuomo also signed a bill on Monday, July 29, extending the background check period for firearm approval.
Federal law already prohibits people from carrying firearms on school grounds – but provides an exception for those licensed to carry them, such as police officers.
The move in New York is ground-breaking, with officials at several state educators’ organisations commenting that they weren’t aware of any other states taking similar steps.
Kevin Casey, the executive director of the School Administrators Association of New York State, told The New York Times he wasn’t aware of anyone ‘who is doing that now’.
And honestly, I’m uncertain as to whether there are districts in which there’s a real push to do that.
The Republican Party generally take issue with any gun-control legislation, taking it as an infringement of the second amendment to the US constitution – the right to bear arms.
Some Republican lawmakers and gun-rights advocates rubbished the recent bill, writing it off as a meaningless token.
As reported by The New York Times, Tom King, the president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, said:
The Legislature and the politicians of New York State have done absolutely nothing to protect our kids in the schools.
King also added his group, also associated with the NRA, didn’t support the arming of teachers – but believed it should be a decision for the school districts and not the state.
The immediate aftermath of the Parkland shooting saw Donald Trump’s administration suggest a number of things. A 177-page assessment commissioned by the president had over 100 recommendations; none of them allaying gun-control concerns.
Have a look at this tweet from Trump below:
….immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A “gun free” school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
One particularly outrageous soundbite was Trump suggesting the teachers should receive a bonus for being qualified to hold arms.
As reported by The New York Times, the quote reads:
You give them a little bit of a bonus, so practically for free, you have now made the school into a hardened target.
This incessant idea of making America appear ‘hard’ is what plagues and quashes gun-control efforts. The smaller steps, such as this bill, and Walmart increasing the age-limit to buy guns, are far outweighed by the lack of action.
Activists have argued the common sense angle: adding more firearms into schools would increase the risk of shootings, whether it be due to mishandled weaponry or students having easier access to improperly stored guns.
An earlier quote from Rahm Emanuel, former mayor of Chicago, sums up a rational approach to the subject of guns in schools.
As reported by The New York Times, Emanuel said:
No police officer, no educator of any note is advocating that what we need is more weapons on school campuses rather than fewer. It’s totally asinine and it doesn’t even warrant a response, but it’s so reckless that the head of the United States’ idea for solving this problem is to arm more people.
The definition of a mass shooting varies: The Stanford Mass Shootings of America (MSA) data project defines it as an incident in which three or more people are injured, not necessarily killed.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.