Gun Safety Advocates and Educators Call on Congress to Pass Gun Law | Education News

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As more than 50 million children have returned to face-to-face learning this summer and fall – many of whom have entered classrooms for the first time in 18 months – educators, principals and teachers parents braced themselves for the impact of students’ loss of social and emotional learning and the rise in anxiety, depression and other mental health crises both caused and exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

But Joe Erardi, who took over as school principal in Newtown, Connecticut, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that left 20 people dead and 6 staff members, knew back to school would be tough. and dangerous like never before.

“If we had had this conversation in July and had been asked the question ‘What do we think is going to happen at the start of this school year’, I would have been absolutely adamant with my answer to that question that it will be the most violent, overwhelming and horrific start to public schools across the country, ”said Erardi, who is now a school safety consultant for AASA, the association of school superintendents.“ And so sadly j ‘m right. “

Between August 1 and September 15, there were 30 cases of gunfire on school grounds, killing five people and injuring 23, according to Everytown for Gun Safety – the highest number and the largest number of people shot during this back-to-school period since the organization started tracking gunfire on school grounds in 2013.

Photos to see – October 2021

Another school shooting was added to that list Wednesday morning, when an 18-year-old student at Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas, shot and injured three people after an altercation with another classmate.

There have been four reported injuries, a 15-year-old boy remains in critical condition, while a teacher is in good condition, a third victim was shot and discharged from hospital and a fourth injury results of a fall, but this person was treated on the spot.

“When you know there are over 5 million children in the United States living in a home with an unsecured gun, that’s a formula for a horrible thing,” he said. Thursday in a planned press call ahead of the Texas school shooting that brought together gun safety advocates, educators and researchers to call on Congress – again – to pass legislation on firearms.

“You play this with the anxiety and stress that kindergarten to 12-year-olds have been through for the past 18 months,” Erardi said. “If you allow the most complex minds in this country to stay home and plan for 18 months, that’s a formula for a horrible school opening. And that’s exactly what happened.”

Erardi was joined by Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, Randi Weingartner, president of the American Federation of Teachers and more.

Their calls for background checks, safe gun storage, age requirements for purchase, extreme risk protection orders and more are not new. These are demands that have been made for more than a decade and come at a time when Congress is legislatively overburdened to raise the debt ceiling and negotiate a way forward for the President’s infrastructure proposals and of family.

Watts said the coalition is leading a new effort to pressure the Biden administration to prioritize gun safety legislation passed by the House in June, but has yet to move on. Senate, where moderates like Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, opposed the legislation.

“We are meeting today after another school shooting tragedy,” Watts said. “It has been a long pandemic and it is still going on. I know families across the country were eager to get the kids back to classrooms this fall. Unfortunately, the start of the school year has meant back-to-school shootings for too many communities across the country. “

“There have been shootings in schools, in parking lots and in classrooms, at sporting events and year-end balls, not to mention dozens of weapons that have been found on the grounds of the city. school without being shot, ”she said.

In addition to putting the White House and Congress on high alert, the groups pleaded with schools to rethink their use of metal detectors, “traumatic” school shooting drills, and policies that arm educators and put police on duty. in schools – so-called school hardening strategies that they say have detrimental effects on learning, especially for students of color.

Earlier this month, the coalition released a joint statement warning of the high risk of gun violence in schools and urged the Department of Education to encourage school districts to send parents information on how to safely store firearms.

“Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, this country was struggling with an epidemic of gun violence,” Pringle said. “And as schools reverted to in-person learning, the shootings in our schools have continued. All too often, students face the trauma of gun violence. We are tired of thoughts and prayers.”

“This is why we are here to demand action,” she said. “The House has done its job in taking action to protect our students and our communities with common sense gun violence prevention. It is time for the Senate to stop stagnating.”

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