Connecticut officials concerned about push to arm teachers

HARTFORD — Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal raised concerns on Thursday with President Donald Trump's push to arm teachers, despite a state law that generally makes it illegal to possess a firearm on the grounds of an elementary or secondary school.

The two Democrats said they worry the Republican president may attempt to pre-empt such state laws in order to arm teachers.

"Could Donald Trump issue an executive order or advocate a law that would override the state gun-free zone law? Possibly yes. It would probably be litigated," Blumenthal said. "Could the federal government require teachers to be armed? Possibly."

Blumenthal suggested it could be more likely that the federal government would create financial incentives to encourage districts to arm teachers.

Blumenthal and Malloy were joined by school board members, administrators and superintendents at a state Capitol news conference to voice opposition to the proposal that Trump has advocated since the Feb. 14 Florida high school shooting that left 17 dead. They argued that arming teachers would ultimately make schools less safe.

"In an emergency, an educator's first priority should be getting students in a position of safety, not seeking out a key to unlock a drawer, or a cabinet to try and find a firearm," said Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools, a group that represents principals of approximately 900 schools in Connecticut.

Scott Wilson, executive director of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, contended that schools are not safe now with laws like Connecticut's on the books.

"Any killer can find his or her way into any school and murder an entire classroom with impunity," Wilson wrote on Thursday on the CCDL blog. "Simply put, gun free zones have been a continual target by people that wish to kill as many people as possible with no resistance until many innocent lives are lost.

Wilson argued that teachers or administrators are likely to be the first line of defense in a school shooting, and "we should provide them with as many tools as possible to protect our children. That includes firearms and the training to use them if they wish. Remember — when seconds count, the police are minutes away."

Malloy's communications director called Wilson's comments disgusting.

"Claiming that gun free zones are the cause of mass shootings is the height of lunacy," said Kelly Donnelly. "It is an insult to compassionate people everywhere, and to the victims of gun violence."

Wilson countered that CCDL was standing up to Malloy and "the Utopian failed policies that increase the likelihood of mass murder in the first place."

 

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