Florida Youth Speak Out Against School Gun Proposals

By: Lanetra Bennett
April 1, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Community leaders across the country are saying "NO" to guns in schools.

The groups say arming teachers or staff does not mean school safety.

Civil rights and education groups in Florida say something needs to be done to keep school kids safe. But, they say legislation (HB 1097) to allow designated school employees to carry guns is not the answer.

"That indeed is a bad idea." Says, Shirley Johnson with the Florida State Conference of the NAACP.

During a teleconference Monday, Johnson, along with members of Advancement Project, and Dream Defenders, rejected House Bill 1097. They say it could lead to unintended consequences.

Johnson says there's already been dangers of such policies. She says, "In January, we saw a newly hired school guard in Michigan mistakenly leave his gun in a school's bathroom. Last month, a student in Mississippi brought his substitute teacher's gun home from school."

The bill passed its first House committee last week. Some parents say they're all for it.

But, the groups say keeping guns out of schools also means no police on school campuses.

They say Florida has the highest number of school-related arrests in the nation, at 13,870 arrests in 2011-2012.

They say it would get worse because police would punish students for minor misbehavior, such as talking back or breaking school dress code.

Alana Greer with Advancement Project says, "Students arrested in school are significantly more likely to be held back, drop out, and put on a pathway to prison instead of college or career."

One high school student from Miami says a high police presence at schools makes students feel like they're in prison. He says he was arrested one day for being late to class and not having on his school uniform.

Johnson ended her time during the conference call by saying, "No more guns in schools because you cannot build peace, P-E-A-C-E, with a piece, P-I-E-C-E."



Concerns Mount that More Police, Armed Educator Will Undermine – Not Improve – Safety

For immediate release

MIAMI, FL – In response to bills moving through the legislature that would arm teachers and increase police presence at schools across the state, students of color, who data show are most impacted by these policies, are calling on policymakers to keep guns out of schools. A coalition of youth from Power U Center for Social Change and Dream Defenders, civil rights and education groups in Florida will hold media teleconference on Monday, April 1 at 11:00 am calling on state and local policymakers to say “NO” to more guns in school.

With support from the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, Advancement Project, public defenders, law enforcement and juvenile court judges, the youth reject the premise that additional armed guards will help them, asserting such personnel often escalate school disciplinary issues into police matters. In fact, studies have consistently shown that youth of color are disproportionately suspended, expelled and even arrested when guards or police enforce school discipline.

Florida has the highest documented number of school-related arrests of young people in the nation – 13,870 in 2011-12 alone. Two-thirds of those arrests were for minor disciplinary infractions. Florida schools are becoming an entry point into the criminal justice system for this generation of students as 51% of students arrested in school in 2011-12 were entering the juvenile justice system for the very first time.

The campaign will launch on Monday with a week of actions across the state urging policymakers to oppose measures that would place more guns in schools.

WHAT: Media Conference Call

WHEN: Monday, April 1, 2013 at 11:00 am

WHO: The Florida State Conference of the NAACP, Advancement Project, and students from Power U Center for Social Change and Dream Defenders who will share their experiences with police in schools.

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