NJEA President Marie Blistan released this statement in response to suggestions, in the wake of last week’s killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that educators should be armed while in school:
“NJEA is adamantly opposed to the idea of arming educators as a response to the scourge of gun violence in our public schools. Turning schools into arsenals will put children and staff more at risk of becoming victims of gun violence. For years, the gun lobby has argued that the solution to gun violence is to have more guns. For years, the United States has suffered levels of gun violence unknown almost anywhere else in the world. We must reject the failed ideology of guns as a solution when, in truth, they are the problem.
“Schools should be safe havens for learning and development. They should not become armed fortresses of fear. The only way to make our schools safer is to make our nation as a whole safer. That requires a willingness to change our approach to guns so that they are harder to obtain, easier to track and less likely to get into the hands of those who will use them to murder other people. Simply handing guns to educators and telling them to fend for themselves would be a gross failure to take responsible and long-overdue action.
“It is time for politicians to stop cowering before the gun lobby. It is time to stop responding to every mass shooting with calls for more guns. It is time to put the safety of our children and staff ahead of the profits of gun manufacturers. When it comes to gun violence, whether in schools or churches or movie theaters or night clubs or office buildings or concerts or any other place, we cannot shoot our way to safety.
“Quite simply, we must get guns out of our schools and keep them out.”