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NEA President: common sense gun laws are essential to keep children and schools safe

Educators welcome presidential recommendations to prevent gun violence in America


WASHINGTON - January 16, 2013 -

President Barack Obama today unveiled the most sweeping legislation in generations aimed at preventing gun violence in America. President Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead a task force following the senseless shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, including educators.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel issued the following statement:

“The senseless tragedy in Newtown was a tipping point and galvanization for action. As educators, we have grieved too long and too often—for the children killed, their families and the heroic educators who gave their lives trying to protect their students. Now more than ever we need to do what is necessary to make sure every child in our nation’s public schools has a safe and secure learning environment.

“We commend President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for moving swiftly and presenting concrete, bold steps to keep children safe and begin addressing gun violence in America. We believe the common-sense recommendations put forth by President Obama are an important first step toward keeping children safe, providing more support for students and educators, and keeping military-style weapons out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them. To solve the problem, we must have not only meaningful action on preventing gun violence but also bullying prevention and much greater access to mental health services, so that educators and families can identify problems and intervene before it’s too late.

In a letter to Vice President Biden, the NEA outlined its proposal that, while including sensible gun safety recommendations, focuses on truly preventive measures, including greater access to mental health services, plus the infrastructure, training and programs that will ensure safe learning environments for the nation’s children.

The presidential recommendations are in line with the views of NEA members. A new NEA member poll released yesterday indicates overwhelming support for stronger gun violence prevention laws, including background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips. The NEA members polled also overwhelmingly rejected the idea of arming educators.

“The idea of arming teachers as some had suggested was rightly and soundly rejected by the president’s task force. We especially welcome the president’s comprehensive approach by allowing school districts the option to design and implement appropriate measures to make schools safer and protect their students.

“With the clock ticking to prevent another Sandy Hook and Americans demanding swift action, the nation’s attention now is squarely on Congress. The time is now for Washington to put politics aside and work together to keep our children safe and reduce the incidence of gun violence in our communities.”

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823, mgonzalez@nea.org