BALTIMORE, March 8, 2018 – Derrick Johnson, CEO and President of the NAACP, the nation’s leading civil rights organization, issued the following statement regarding the arming of Florida teachers with guns.
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.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.
See Derrick Johnson’s recent Op Ed on gun violence here: