Examples of students’ written statements
Hi my name is Jane and I am a senior in high school. My entire life one thing I have always known is school shootings. When I was just twelve years old the tragedy at Sandy Hook happened. This is one of my earliest memories of gun violence at schools, however this experience would be far from my last. I cannot even begin to name every school shooting that occured after, but needless to say I began to become numb to the senseless violence happening in our schools. However roughly this time last year things became too real, I was in seventh period science when I got the notification that there was an active shooter in a Florida school. As my classmates went to view to article some of them began to become even more upset, revealing that some of their good friends went to. We didn’t know what to do, there was nothing we could do we were across the state while a school full of kids were in an active shooter situation. This sense of helplessness only increased as we found that seventeen kids had been mercilessly killed while attending school. This helplessness turned to action on all sides, and while many people turned to activism and gun violence prevention efforts, some of these ideas have been productive than others however none are more counter-productive than the concept of arming teachers.
Teachers are meant to educate, they are not meant to be armed. I understand what drives people to want to do this. The idea that a good guy with a guy can stop a bad guy with a gun is incredibly prevalent in our society. However teachers do not need this burden placed on them, and when it is it can have detrimental consequences for students. The normalization of guns in schools is dangerous, we can begin to forget the danger that guns can pose. Guns can be used responsibly but having them with our teachers is not what we as students need. Teach us to learn, not to be in fear of a gun in classrooms. We are already a generation that has grown up seeing school shootings on TV, please don’t make us see guns in our everyday lives. This is our future, please help us make it a bright one.
Hi, my name is Sarah and I am a sophomore at Hillsborough High School. As a member of Team ENOUGH and as the founder and leader of Students Demand Action at Hillsborough High School, it has been my mission for the past year to help prevent gun violence in our community. One of the most pressing matters I have been focused on is the issue of arming teachers. When the Senate Education Committee voted to pass Senate Bill 7030 last Tuesday to expand the Guardian program, my friends and I were shocked and fearful for not only ourselves, but also for the safety of students across Florida. Every student I spoke with the following day felt scared about the prospect of having teachers in our school have possession of a firearm in the classroom. One teacher in particular even had previously stated that she wants to shoot the students who are tardy to class.
Giving teachers access to guns creates potential risks that can’t be avoided, even by trained officers. For example, in California, a teacher who is also a reserve police officer trained to use a gun accidentally discharged a firearm at the ceiling, injuring a student in the neck with the bullet fragments. In another instance in Minnesota, a third grader accidentally fired a school police officer’s gun that was attached to his holster. If individuals who have been trained for their careers to use guns safely can still make mistakes, armed teachers can cause potentially fatal errors to occur. In the chaos of an active shooter on campus, how can we assume that if a teacher fires a gun, they will have the correct aim? In the event of a violent fight at school, how can we be sure that a teacher won’t resort to the drastic measure of interference by firearm to deescalate the situation? How can we ensure that a teacher won’t be careless enough to leave their gun unattended and accessible to students?
We don’t know the answers to these questions, and that is why it is crucial for us to not arm teachers in Hillsborough County schools. Giving teachers firearms is not an effective measure prevent gun violence, as it causes more harm than good. Signing the resolution before you today to declare that you will not be arming teachers is a great step toward making our schools safer. Of course, there is much more work to be done in the fight against gun violence, but this small action will make a huge difference in the safety of Hillsborough County students now and for many years to come. Thank you for your time and for your commitment to our safety.
My name is Gloria and I am a senior at Robinson High School. I am also a member of Team ENOUGH and Co-Lead of March for Our Lives Tampa, dedicated to decreasing rates of gun violence in the Tampa Bay community.
But, I don’t want to stand up here and talk about myself. Instead, I want to tell you about one of my closest friends: Zack. He is one of the hardest working students I know. As the head of March for Our Lives Jacksonville, he juggles school, work, his lung cancer treatments and, of course, activism. On March 6, 2012, Zack got up early and went to school, just like every other day. But this day was different.
Just after 1:30 p.m. at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, shots rang out. Zack was hiding in a classroom for over three hours, refreshing his phone for updated news headlines to see what was happening. That’s how he found out his headmaster had been shot and killed. The culprit? Zack’s Spanish teacher. He had been fired that morning, and in retaliation, came back on campus with a guitar case. Inside was an AK-47 and over 100 rounds of ammo.
Yet, this story isn’t anything special. I can recount over a dozen of instances in which teachers have utilized weapons on campus to harm either themselves or others. Yet here I am, declaring that arming teachers would not alleviate danger on campus, but only worsen it.
I have the utmost respect for my teachers. I continue to be amazed at the time, effort, additional funds and creativity that goes into this occupation. My journalism teacher, Ms. Oben, will stay on campus until 10 or 11 p.m. with us several times a year to ensure that we meet our newspaper and yearbook deadlines. My economics teacher, Ms. Mousseau, makes sure that we meet up outside of school hours at least once a week to work on econ because she wants me to achieve the highest score I can on my IB exam.
I have the most thoughtful, hardworking teachers. And I am incredibly appreciative of that. But Ms. Oben and Ms. Mousseau certainly do not need firearms. And I can promise you they don’t want them either. Teachers are here to teach, not act as our personal security guards and police officers; it is not right for us to add more to the teacher’s job description. The Hillsborough County Public Schools system is fortunate in that we have School Resource Officers on campus. We have security. Adding teachers with firearms will only cause more problems.
I am so thankful for the school board’s verbal affirmation against arming teachers in schools. But I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words. And with the state’s current decisions in arming teachers, it is pertinent that the Hillsborough county confirms, in writing, its stance against arming teachers.
By signing this resolution, you are not just standing up for me or Zack, but for Ms. Oben, Ms. Mousseau and the countless parents, teachers and students in Hillsborough County who believe that a teacher’s job is to ensure that our youth receives the education it needs to succeed in the future. And that should be their sole focus. Thank you.