WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes on Thursday introduced resolutions to block federal funding from being used to arm school teachers.
“I bring a perspective as a classroom teacher and I can tell you I would never have wanted the responsibility in my school — John F. Kennedy High School — to carry a firearm,” Hayes said.
Hayes and Murphy held a press conference on the Capitol grounds to announce their resolutions criticizing U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for suggesting school districts could use federal funds to purchase firearms or provide firearm training for public school teachers.
They were joined at the press conference by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Rosa DeLauro as well as Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, making their announcement on the first anniversary of the nationwide student walkout to protest Congressional inaction after the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida.
DeLauro said the resolution is necessary to clarify the intent of Congress that federal education funding cannot be used to arm teachers. She said DeVos’ comments “left the door open” for states to use the funding for an “unintended, unprecedented and unpopular” scheme to allow guns in schools.
The press conference was held shortly after the Connecticut State Supreme Court issued a ruling that will allow parents of students killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School to move ahead with a lawsuit against gun manufacturers over the marketing of military-style weapons.
Blumenthal called the ruling “a bombshell victory” for gun safety advocates. Murphy said that allowing the lawsuit against gun manufacturers to move forward is a victory in itself because it will allow the plaintiffs — and the public — to learn how gun manufacturers have attempted to market weapons to children through such things as video games.
“I think the discovery alone could be damaging to the gun industry,” he said.
As to his resolution, Murphy said it would “make it absolutely clear” that federal dollars cannot be used to put guns in classrooms.
Murphy and Hayes argued that arming teachers would make classrooms less safe. Murphy said there are already examples of accidental shootings in schools. Hayes pointed out that most teachers will never have the necessary training to handle a weapon during an active shooter situation.
“My husband is a police officer and I know that every year he has to go for training, for recertification, for practice,” she said. “Schools don’t have the bandwidth to do that. We are not capable of doing that and I wouldn’t want to have to figure out in a high-pressure situation if this an active shooter or someone who is a teacher.”
Hayes argued that federal resources can be used more effectively to address mass shootings in other ways.