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Why Trump’s proposal to arm teachers jeopardizes Black students’ lives

This past Tuesday, in an hour-long meeting with the gun violence survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Trump made headlines when he suggested that armed teachers would have made a difference following the Feb 14th mass shooting in Florida.

As you can imagine, the President received a lot of blowback. So, Trump took to Twitter to clarify his statements, saying he only meant those who have experience with a weapon… or something.

However, yesterday (Friday 22nd) at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) , Trump doubled down on his stance. This time, however, his words stuck and lingered more heavily.

“A teacher would have shot the hell out of” the gunman if the school permitted concealed carry, he said.

Not only does giving teachers guns align with NRA’s Executive Director and CEO Wayne LaPierre who, only a week after the deadly school shooting in Florida, criticized teaching in schools and claimed “gun-free zones” are easy targets for shooters, but raises a much larger issue: the safety of Black students.

Police officers are the other public employees armed at the behest of the state and we’ve seen how well that has been for African-Americans. We’re talking highly trained officers who are supposed to protect and serve. Yet, police kill Blacks at  disproportionate rates.

If trained armed professionals claim “fear” of their lives in these incidents with unarmed Blacks, imagine then, how the teachers will react whenever fear is invoked at their school.

Not all schools are the same. A lot these schools, especially public ones, have troubled youth who need patience and an ear, not a teacher who wants to play hero.

Asking underpaid teachers who are not even equipped with the proper resources to fulfill their curriculum to take on the responsibly of making life or death split decisions in a country as racist as America, is jut asking for more slain Black lives.

Wayne LaPierre’s whole ‘”the only thing to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” rhetoric is not applicable in a classroom full of children. The access to these guns in the first place has to be addressed on some degree, not implementing more guns.

Furthermore, what kind of guns are we expecting to equip teachers with? These mass shooting aren’t done by handguns. Does the President propose the gym teacher walk around with an AR-15 strapped on his chest during cardio lessons?

While Trump does bump heads with the NRA on raising the purchasing age of an assault riffle from 18 to 21 and insists that he isn’t referring to teachers, but only those who are “gun-adept” — which Trump says could be 10 or 20 percent of teachers — his solutions are dangerous to millions of Black students out there who are targets simply because of their skin tone.

Only time will tell what measures are going to be taken to make a difference, let’s just hope it’s not at the expense of precious Black lives.

A History of Violence: The harrowing statistics of gun violence in America

Most of the country woke up to the news Monday morning that a gunman had terrorized a country music concert in Las Vegas, leaving over 50 dead and 500 more wounded.

The gunman, a 64-year-old named Stephen Paddock, had knocked out the windows in his 32nd floor suite in the Mandalay Resort and Casino and fired continuously on a crowd of 22,000 people in what is now one of the most deadly mass shootings in the history of the country.

Police found 23 firearms in Paddock’s hotel room, as well as 19 more guns at his home along with explosives and several thousand rounds of ammo.

Once again we’re left to grieve this unbearable tragedy and loss of life, something that’s become far too commonplace in this country. We all know how this goes, everyone offers their ‘thoughts and prayers’ for the victims and their families, people on the left call for the government to do something about gun access, people on the right say that if only there were more guns at the concert the situation could’ve been avoided.

And this has already happened. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to create a special committee to study the epidemic of gun violence, the NRA went dark on Monday as they figure out how to best address this latest shooting, and the White House said right now is not the time to talk about gun control.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the media on Monday,

“There will be, certainly, time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment. I think one of the things that we don’t want to do is try to create laws that won’t stop these types of things from happening,”

While president Trump is a wild card with no real party affiliation, betting on this president to suddenly enact strict gun laws is probably a lost cause.

This is our new normal. Every once in awhile some demented individual can bring an entire country to its knees and nothing will be done to change the status quo.

The 2nd amendment right to bear arms is viewed as sacred by large swaths of this country. America was founded on revolution in the face of a royal tyrant, the 2nd amendment made sense in 1776, but there’s no reason Stephen Paddock should’ve been able to obtain a small army’s worth of firearms.

I don’t know what the ‘solution’ to this problem is. But the course we’re on right now seems untenable.

Without interjection of any opinion, here’s a look at the scope of the issue.

Gun Violence in 2017

After the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2013, the Gun Violence Archive was started to track the total number of shootings and gun deaths in the United States.

The raw data is terrifying.

First of all, the number of incidents and deaths has increased every year since the organization started tracking the statistics in 2014. There were 51,881 incidents in 2014, 53,701 in 2015, 58,780 in 2016, and already 46,479 through October 2017.

The Gun Violence Archive also tracks specific incidents like police officers being shot, citizens shot by police, and kids and teenagers being shot.

11,572 Americans have been killed by guns through the first 9 months of 2017. For more annual statistics, take a look at Gun Violence Archive.

A History of Violence

In 1966, a former marine sharpshooter named Charles Whitman went to the top of a tower on the University of Texas and shot and killed 15 people. This is known as the first infamous mass shooting in modern America.

Since then, the problem has grown more and more pervasive.

As many pointed out yesterday, more Americans have been killed by guns since 1968 than Americans killed in all the wars fought in the history of the country.

There have been 1.5 million gun deaths in America since 1968. A look at a graphic created by the Guardian depicting every mass shooting since 2013 makes for exhausting viewing.

Compared to other countries

According to the Small Arms Survey, there are 88 firearms per 100 hundred people in the United States. That’s basically 1 gun for every person in the country, making America far and away the most gun-filled country in the world.

While the gun homicide rate is higher in countries like El Salvador and Jamaica, the prevalence of guns in America is truly unique.

Obviously it’s nearly impossible to ban guns outright, especially in a country like the United States where the right to bear arms is in the constitution, but we can learn from other countries and how they have limited access to firearms.

In Japan, in order to obtain a gun, you have to attend a class, pass a written test, get a drug test, prove your mental health, pass a background check, and tell police exactly where you keep your gun in your house as well as ammo, which has to be stored separately.

In Australia, there was a deadly mass shooting in 1996 at a popular tourist resort. Australia had similar libertarian ideals of gun ownership that exist in the United States, but the government passed strict gun laws in response to the shooting and Australia hasn’t seen a mass shooting since.

These countries are very different from the United States in many ways, but they have had success in eliminating gun violence through strict and sensical laws.

The Gun Lobby

So, what exactly it preventing congress from passing widespread legislation that would make it harder to get a gun? Money.

The NRA has evolved from a group of rural hunters who had some rifles to become one of the richest, most outspoken far-right organizations in the country.

A look at some recruitment videos show the extremism of the NRA, which has become a radical political arm of the GOP and donates to the campaigns of the majority of GOP members.

Igor Volsky, Deputy Director at CAP Action, has dedicated his time to tracking NRA donations to political campaigns. On Twitter, Volsky shines a light on the apparent hypocrisy and inaction of politicians who publicly mourn shootings but take thousands, if not millions, from the NRA.

When there’s that kind of big money on behalf of a political cause, it’s no wonder that legislation against it is nearly impossible to pass.

We’ve seen this cycle so many times before. The grief, the tragedy, the ‘politicized’ arguments. At some point we all need to decide this can’t happen anymore.