March 4, 2019
LWV Gun Safety Coalition Phone Conference
Patti Brigham, LWV of Florida opened the meeting. She introduced O’shane McCray, spokesperson of the Center for American Progress. He gave the Federal update:
HR 8 – Background check legislation. Passed in the House. There has been an amendment added that would alert ICE when undocumented individuals submit gun registration paperwork. Members are encouraged to support S 42, which doesn’t have this amendment. The Senate needs input to urge passage of the clean bill.
The next speaker was Andy Pelosi, spokesperson from Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus. Arming teachers is a threat to public safety and public health. Andy reports that Congress is beginning to see gun violence as a public health issue. The organization Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus is eleven years old. They have a presence in 420 colleges in 42 states. Policies began to change, working in twenty states, in the early 2000’s. There was a push to stop the prohibition of guns in schools. Prior to that time, guns were not allowed. Utah was the first state to allow guns in schools.
In reaction to violent shootings in 2007 and 2008 (Virginia Tech and NIU), some in the public felt that protection was needed and possession of a gun would provide that protection. Slowly, there was a chipping away of the resistance to guns in schools.
The following states have rejected guns on campus:
Currently, there are 18 states working on legislation for teachers to carry.
The stakeholders in this discussion are:
*faculty. We must focus on faculty – encourage them to make phone calls and send
emails to legislators.
Andy pointed out a contentious issue; some feel that gun ownership is “God Given” and determined by the 2nd amendment.
Guns on campus do not lower rates of sexual assault. Student suicide, however, is the #2 cause of death in the college-age group. Suicide is successful in 90-95% of cases if a firearm is involved.
The organization is encouraging push back on arming teachers. He urges all to:
*Join with the coalition to stop guns in schools
*Organize and rally
*Press for banning assault weapons
*Find which members in the General Assembly are friends/foes of the Guardian Program
*Reach out to schools
What could go wrong if guns are in schools? It could alter the culture of the school – police State. There are realistic fears of accidental discharge. Guns will escalate workplace violence. Costs of insurance and safety could skyrocket.
Instead of increasing counselors (recommended 1 per 250 student) – they have decreased (currently 1 for 450 students).
Training will not rise to the level of police officers.
A better remedy is to identify “at risk” individuals.
School resource officers:
Still carries unintended consequences. Inevitable that disciplinary situations will be more dangerous. Students of color will be more likely targets. Do we want to militarize our schools?
Actually, homicide rates in schools is lower than outside schools. FBI looked at active shooter incidents – they were not stopped by armed personnel.
Encourage partnerships with the Teachers’ Unions. American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are active on both the national and state levels,
Some random phone calls:
Kentucky and Florida: has ruled that guns cannot be prohibited in school parking lots.
Oregon – court may regulate, but not prohibit guns on school property.
Oregon has proposed that the age of ownership be raised from 18 to 21. Data shows that raising the age, with background checks, reduces incidents.
The meeting ended early – at 7:40.