NAACP weighs in on controversial school safety bill

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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
March 8, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The NAACP has issued a statement in response to the Florida Legislature's passage of a school safety bill that would arm some of the state's teachers.

The state House narrowly passed the bill on Wednesday after a Senate vote Monday. It now goes to Governor Rick Scott for a final decision.

Gov. Scott hasn't said if he'll sign the bill, which was thrust to the state's political forefront after a deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. However, those critical of the legislation are already speaking out against it.

Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO, issued the following statement on Thursday:

“Last night, the Florida Legislature voted to allow teachers to carry weapons in schools. The NAACP finds the very idea of arming teachers as a solution to gun violence utterly absurd and misguided. We know that children of color are portrayed and seen as more dangerous, more culpable and less human than children viewed as white. Given this background, how can parents of Black children feel comfortable sending their children to a school where guns abound and where the perception of threat could have deadly consequences? Can one imagine telling a parent that their child has been shot in school not by an intruder but by a teacher or staff person who felt threatened by them?

“In two decades since the mass murder at Columbine, Florida has locked up over a million children for basic school discipline issues like talking back. Instead of investing $400 million to make our schools an armed camp, the NAACP instead calls for Floridians to embrace sane gun laws and reforms that make our communities and schools safer. This means universal background checks on any gun sale or transfer and banning military-style and semi-automatic assault weapons. Sensible gun policy that makes our communities safer would also mean funding the CDC to research gun violence as a public health issue.

“The issue of ensuring that reckless gun laws do not infringe upon the common safety of our communities is one of freedom. If our schools are transformed into prisons, we are not free and are instead held hostage by the gun lobby and the less than three percent of the population that owns 50 percent of the guns in our nation. We become locked down by a minuscule percentage of the population who feel a background check before purchasing a weapon is somehow an infringement on their rights. We as a nation must ask ourselves whether the few have the power to make our communities unsafe despite the will of the majority. The people of Australia, facing similar dilemma, decided to choose public safety over an unbridled gun industry; surely we should expect no less from our own policymakers.”

The statement echoes the same sentiment expressed by Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor in a letter sent to lawmakers last week. Leon County School Superintendent Rocky Hanna fired back, saying Proctor's letter crossed the line.

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