US Senator Chris Murphy demanded Friday that US Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testify before Congress on the issue of arming teachers.
The department has provided loose guidance that a certain pool of money that gets sent to states and school districts can be used to purchase weapons and to train staff or faculty in the use of firearms.
“It’s really important that we make it clear to Betsy DeVos that federal funds cannot and should not be used to help arm teachers,” Murphy said during a press conference where he was joined by education advocates.
The groups joining Murphy ranged from teachers’ unions, to school boards, to parent teacher groups.
One of those in attendance was Jennifer Falotico, who is a mother of two from Stamford, and is the current president of the Connecticut Parent Teacher Association.
She says the discussion of arming teachers misses the point when it comes to solutions for school and student safety.
“Never once did I think that armed guards or armed teachers or even necessarily armed professionals in the building was the ultimate solution,” Falotico said. “We needed to look at what caused that child to go in and do that. From day one, I felt that way, that’s the discussion in my home, so my kids I think understand that.”
No school system in Connecticut has advocated for arming teachers or staff in any way.
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League criticized Murphy’s press conference and his motives. The group shifted the topic to the issue of gun free zones, saying they have never stopped a mass shooting.
“Senator Murphy and others are playing politics while letting children remain vulnerable to simply protect a political agenda,” wrote Scott Wilson, the president of the CCDL. “This way of thinking has cost countless lives since the implementation of so-called gun free zones. Let's have an honest discussion about proper training, and who might be able to carry firearm, and when".
Murphy disagrees with those sentiments, and says he wants real answers from DeVos.
“Guns in schools make those schools less safe. They put kids at risk. They may increase the profits of the gun industry. They may allow for gun companies to sell more guns but they jeopardize the safety of our kids.”