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NEA President Dennis Van Roekel: NRA plan ignores most sensible solutions

NRA plan ignores what works to keep students and schools safe


WASHINGTON - April 02, 2013 -

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel issued the following statement in response to the National Rifle Association’s National School Shield Emergency Response Program to put more guns on school grounds:

“The senseless tragedy in Newtown, Conn., and all those before it, should force lawmakers and communities to come together to ensure that all students have an opportunity to learn in safe environments. We are disappointed that the NRA leadership has chosen not to focus on common sense gun violence prevention measures that must be part of a comprehensive plan to help ensure the safety of our 50 million students.

“We need to have a laser sharp focus on measures that are truly preventive—including greater access to mental health services, increased infrastructure to support facility improvement, and comprehensive training and programs to address issues, like bullying. Mitigation and prevention, along with common sense laws to prevent gun violence, have to be a part of the plan if we are going to truly help ensure safe learning environments for the nation’s students. NEA is leading the way with our ‘Bully Free’ campaign, which was designed by educators to put more caring adults into the lives of bullied students and prevent tragedies before they occur.

“We are deeply concerned about increasing the presence of guns on school grounds, which has never proven to be a deterrent. A national poll found that educators overwhelmingly support stronger laws to prevent gun violence, rejecting the NRA leaders' idea of putting more guns in schools by arming school employees. Most Americans share these views—parents do not want their five-year-olds to have to walk past someone with a gun to reach their kindergarten class. Armed guards at Columbine and Virginia Tech were unable to prevent those tragedies, however a more robust mental health program and background checks might have made the difference.

“We must move quickly to prevent another senseless tragedy, and Americans are demanding swift action. We urge our elected leaders to put the lives of America's students ahead of politics, shelve this ill-conceived approach and join the rest of the nation as we call on Congress to pass a real plan that will keep our students safe."

For full results of the poll, please click here.

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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: Michelle Hudgins  (202) 822-7823, mhudgins@nea.org