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Teachers want common-sense gun reform, not to carry weapons, says National Education Association official

What do teachers think of calls from President Trump and others for arming educators as a response to mass shootings at schools? Becky Pringle of the National Education Association joins John Yang to share opposition to the proposal and why many teachers can’t imagine the responsibility of carrying a firearm in the classroom.

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  • John Yang:

    Now, what do teachers think about this?

    For that, we're joined by Becky Pringle, a middle school science teacher who is vice president of the National Education Association. The NEA represents about three million public schoolteachers, administrators, and other personnel.

    Thanks for joining us.

    You just heard him say that this is not arming teachers, but turning teachers and other school personnel into peace officers, a last line of defense. What is your response?

  • Becky Pringle:

    So, that's not what it sounds like. It sounds like arming teachers.

    And our teachers across the country, as well as other educators, as he talked about in his segment, that even other educators on campus, for them to be armed only puts more guns in our schools. And we know that is not the way to keep our students safe.

  • John Yang:

    What is — what would you — Governor Scott of Florida has announced a big plan. He wants to put armed guards in every school. What do you think of that?

  • Becky Pringle:

    Well, I think it is for each school district and community to come together and talk about this new reality that, unfortunately, too many of our students right now, it's the only reality they know.

    But here's the thing. Adults in the system always get together and talk about solutions, and they usually leave out the voice of our students. They're not being silent this time. They are here in Washington, D.C., today and they're coming back again, and they're speaking up, and they're telling us, keep us safe.

    They're not talking about arming their teachers. They're not talking about arming the custodian. They're talking about commonsense gun law reform, which, by the way, the majority of Americans agree with.

    We know we need universal background checks. We know we shouldn't have assault weapons that are easily accessible to dangerous people. The students know that, and so do we, and we stand with them in demanding that our politicians finally do something about it.

  • John Yang:

    In the Texas situation, it's the local school district that would decide whether or not to participate. Do you have any objection if a local school were to say, we want to do this?

  • Becky Pringle:

    My question would be, who are they involving in that decision? Are they involving the students? Are they involving the parents? Are they involving the teachers and other educators in that school district, so they're coming up with a commonsense solution that will actually keep the students safe?

    That would be the question I would ask them. But we know from evidence that introducing more guns into a situation only makes it more dangerous and more volatile.

  • John Yang:

    What would be the solutions you would favor?

  • Becky Pringle:

    We want our politicians to finally stand up and do what's right for our students.

    There is absolutely no excuse for assault weapons to be easily accessible to dangerous people. We're only asking for commonsense gun reform. That's what we're asking for. We know that these guns are designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.

    There is no place for those guns in our schools or in our communities.

  • John Yang:

    In the Parkland incident, I have to ask. There were a number of teachers who died and were wounded shielding their students in this attack.

    How has this job of a teacher changed since Columbine some 19 years ago?

  • Becky Pringle:

    John, you know, when the president initially talked about arming teachers, I tried to imagine. I'm an eighth grade science teacher and — the wonder years.

    And my job was to instill in them the wonders of science and to give them that opportunity to explore it with me. I cannot imagine adding to the list of things that I do, that already go outside of the scope of my job, carrying a loaded pistol. I cannot imagine taking on that responsibility.

    And that's why we're saying no. Politicians need to take their responsibility in enacting commonsense gun reform. That's what needs to happen. Our students are demanding it. And so are our educators.

  • John Yang:

    Becky Pringle, vice president of the National Education Association, thanks so much for joining us.

  • Becky Pringle:

    Thank you, John.

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