With Georgia’s legislative session just months away and following the devastating mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, common-sense gun reform is top of mind for many. Yet instead of taking active steps towards protecting constituents, just last week, Georgia Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones called for the state to use the funding to arm, claiming despite research, that this is a way Georgia can be “proactive” to prevent shootings.
“If more guns in more places made us safer, we’d be safe already – but we’re not. I know my classmates and I wouldn’t feel safer knowing our teachers are carrying deadly weapons in our classrooms,” said Sophie Chang, a volunteer with Students Demand Action and a Student at Northview High School. “There’s simply no evidence that arming teachers makes our schools safer. This is not the solution. It’s cruel and irresponsible to respond to our cries for change with a reckless proposal that will only endanger us more.”
Research shows that arming teachers introduces new risks of gun violence in schools and puts the lives of students, teachers, and law enforcement in danger. Arming teachers and people on campus only increases the chances of students experiencing gun violence at school. We’re seeing this in other states – states with the weakest gun laws tend to have higher rates of gun violence than states with stronger gun laws.
“Instead of allocating funds towards measures that will make Georgians safer, our lieutenant Governor is perpetuating this falsehood that arming educators will create a safer environment for students when it only increases the likelihood that a student will have access to a gun,” said Dianne Gregory, a volunteer with the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Let teachers teach. This is not the job they signed up for.”
Arming teachers is opposed by school safety experts, teachers, and law enforcement, and with good reason. First, when a gun is in the classroom, students can get access to it. There have been multiple incidents of students and teachers finding misplaced firearms: in bathrooms, locker rooms, and even sporting events. Second, the notion of a highly trained teacher armed with a gun, able to respond as quickly as trained law enforcement, is a myth. Law enforcement officers receive hundreds of hours of training but Georgia allows armed personnel to carry in schools with much less training.
Firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens. Gun violence is a public health crisis that lawmakers can take active steps toward solving. Instead of militarizing Georgia schools, lawmakers should work to pass secure storage legislation that has been proven effective in reducing the risk of gun violence.
Georgia already suffers from some of the weakest gun laws in the country – in an average year, 1,868 people die by guns in Georgia, and the state has the 17th-highest rate of gun deaths in the US. The Georgia State Legislature has fulfilled the gun lobby’s ”guns everywhere” agenda, by allowing guns to be carried nearly anywhere in the state—from the busy Atlanta airport to college campuses. More information on gun violence in Georgia is available here. To speak to a Georgia volunteer with Moms Demand Action, a volunteer with Students Demand Action, or a policy expert, please reach out to [email protected].