Lily Eskelsen García: “We know that thoughts and prayers aren’t enough—we know this moment demands action.”

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García provided the following statement in response to recent acts of gun violence stoked by the racist rhetoric of Donald Trump, which left three people dead in Gilroy, California; 21 in El Paso, Texas; and 10 in Dayton, Ohio:

“Today, our nation once again mourns. We grieve for the 34 people who died at the hands of gunmen in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton. We pray for the victims who are still fighting for their lives in trauma wards and recovery rooms, and especially for the children whose lives have been turned upside down by these violent events. We thank the first responders who risked their own lives to stop the gunmen from shattering more families or taking more lives.

“As educators, we provide comfort and support to our students, helping them to cope with the trauma of gun violence, both in the wake of mass shootings and as well as the daily gun violence some of our students have to deal with on a daily basis. Communities look to us for guidance on how to explain these senseless acts to their children. And we have seen how Donald Trump’s racist tweets have emboldened white supremacists and promoted hate, as students carry his detestable words into the classroom. That is why, as educators, we know that thoughts and prayers aren’t enough—we know this moment demands action.

“But sadly, as a new school year approaches, we—as a nation—are no closer to protecting our students. Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and their allies in Congress have all failed us. Instead of accepting the gravity of the moment and the responsibility of their offices, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell simply blame others. Rather than working to keep weapons of war out of our schools, off our streets, and out of the hands of convicted felons, they do nothing.

“Our country deserves better. Our families deserve better. And our students deserve better.

“That is why today, educators stand united to demand that Majority Leader McConnell recall the Senate from their recess to address this crisis. The Senate needs to come back for an emergency session to pass commonsense gun reform, starting with the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8 and S. 42). They should bring to the floor the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 (S. 66). And they need to say with one voice that white nationalism has no place in this country by condemning Donald Trump’s racist words and agenda.”

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