Ending gun violence in America: What works, and what doesn't?
In the wake of yet another deadly school shooting, individuals directly affected by gun violence tell CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that new legislation and measures to protect schools are needed now more than ever. The demand for action, however, is largely being driven by emboldened student activists calling for change.
President Trump has signaled he would be open to supporting bipartisan legislation on more stringent background checks and raising the age limit of those who can purchase high-capacity weapons. He has also called on the Justice Department to explore regulations that would ban “bump stock” devices. Over the last several days, he has embraced proposals to arm teachers in classrooms.
The panel of five people personally impacted by gun violence say such measures are not the best way to strengthen the safety of schools.
“When I think very practically about myself sitting in a second grade classroom on the floor — criss cross applesauce with my students, teaching, reading — the last thing I would be ready for in the split second that it might happen is having to pull out a firearm and pull it from my hip and intervene in that way,” said Michele Gay, a former teacher who founded Safe and Sound Schools after her daughter was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. “Further, having worked with school resource officers so closely for the past five years, we know the level of training that they undergo.”
Orlando Police Chief John Mina echoed that concern, saying teachers already have a litany of daily responsibilities and aren’t prepared to handle firearms in a stressful situation.
“Law enforcement throughout the country — not only did they get through, you know, hours and months and weeks of training, but they also carry firearms every day and deal and use their firearms, sometimes in stressful situations. And for a teacher to be educating students at one second and then be responsible for responding in a high stress situation with a firearm with not enough training or mental preparation, I don’t think it’s a good fit. I’m definitely against that,” Mina said.
Austin Eubanks, a survivor of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, said he’s opposed to the idea as well.
“I do believe that we have to strengthen schools by way of architecture, metal detectors or perhaps additional security personnel. But I do think that those two functions have to be completely separate. Educators have to focus on education and security officials need to focus on security,” said Eubanks.
The panelists agreed that in the days after the shooting, student activists who have mobilized and demanded answers from lawmakers are energizing the debate around gun control.
Nicole Hockley of Sandy Hook Promise said there’s a stark difference between adults advocating on behalf of their children versus students advocating for themselves, like they are in Parkland.
“These are articulate teenagers sharing their experience and demanding that the adults listen to them,” Hockley said. “So I think the politicians need to stop their nonsense fighting and instead just kind of shut up and listen a little bit to these kids and listen to what they’re demanding, because this can’t continue. We can’t keep letting our kids die and feel unsafe in their schools.”
Hockley added, “Their energy and their drive, that energized me because, you know, I’ve been in this fight for five years. They’re at the start of a very long journey, but they have tools in terms of social media and stuff that I didn’t really have at my fingertips. They are organizing and mobilizing at an incredibly rapid rate and and they’re not listening to what other people are telling them to say. They’re speaking for themselves. They’re being authentic. And I think that has power.”
Andy Parker, father of Alison Parker, a reporter for CBS Roanoke affiliate WDBJ who was killed live on air, said that while the White House held two separate listening sessions this past week in an effort to formulate a response to mass shootings, the move might be too little too late.
“When you have to hold a note card that says, ‘I hear you,’ I mean, come on. That’s unimpressive to say the least,” said Parker.
For more on the roundtable watch the full panel discussion on “Face the Nation” above.
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