By Chris Stone
Updated at 10:45 p.m. Feb. 26, 2018
President Donald Trump’s suggestion to arm teachers to combat school shootings was met with an emphatic “no” at the state Democratic Party Convention in San Diego.
San Diego teachers are outraged by the Trump and NRA proposal to arm teachers in response to the deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, said San Diego Unified school board president Kevin Beiser.
“Just the thought. Some teachers have said, ‘What’s next? Arming all the students?’” Beiser said Saturday at the San Diego Convention Center. “And I think that the more guns we put in school classrooms, it’s not going to make our kids safer.”
Beiser, a math teacher, said he plans to introduce at Tuesday’s board meeting a resolution to demand lawmakers reinstate the federal assault weapons ban, enact stricter gun controls including thorough background checks for purchases of guns and ammunition, and a ban on semi-automatic firearms, high-capacity magazines, armor-piercing ammunition, and bump stocks.
He also wants reasonable waiting periods for gun purchases and mandated weapons training.
The resolution, introduced with board colleague Richard Barrera, is in partnership with Moms Demand Action, he said.
“This (arming teachers) conversation is way off track,” Beiser said. “We really need to talk about solutions, and I think that is an assault weapon ban. It should be a felony in the United States to own an AR-15. Those are not guns for hunting; they are guns for killing.
School resource officers “should have the resources to protect teachers like myself, so I can help my student succeed and go on to college,” he said.
Before his comments, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said she got calls this week from thousands of teachers.
“All of them said: ‘This is a crazy idea,” said the union leader.
Speaking at the convention during Saturday’s luncheon, Weingarten said: “What’s going to happen? Are kindergarten teachers going to wear a gun in a holster on your hips? Teachers thinking about having a handgun against an AR-15? While kids are running around?”
Trump is “exploiting fear rather than solving problems,” Weingarten told Times of San Diego. “Our union is fighting [the armed teaching notion] with every fiber of our beings.”
Both Beiser and Weingarten encouraged people to take part March 24 in the March for Our Lives, an event initiated by survivors of the Florida school shooting.
“Help us stop the NRA from creating more guns in schools,” said Weingarten, who lives on Long Island and in Washington, D.C.
In San Diego, a March for Our Lives rally is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 24 in front of the County Administration Building.
In addition, Women’s March organizers are encouraging students, teachers and their allies to walk out of schools March 14 to protest gun violence. The 17-minute walkout at 10 a.m. is meant to honor the 17 lives lost in Florida
Beiser said he is working with SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten to plan San Diego schools’ approach to the call for a walkout.
“We want to support our children who are standing up for our right to life and we have to make sure that we are doing it in a constructive, positive way,” Beiser said.
A safety concern exists about students being led outside onto the streets, he said.
“Some schools are planning to do ‘walk-ins’ at their school to support the students and their passion, stopping these mass school shootings and use it as a teachable moment,” Beiser said.
Weingarten in her speech noted companies that have cut ties with the NRA.
Firms eliminating discount offers for NRA members include Hertz Corp, Enterprise, Avis and Budget Car Rentals, United and Delta Airlines, Best Western and Wyndham Hotels, MetLife Inc., and Chubb insurance companies.
Bank of America announced that it is re-examining its relationship with the NRA, she said.
The moves come as petitions circulated online targeting companies offering discounts to NRA members on its website. #BoycottNRA was trending on Twitter.
“I found it really interesting that these people are looking at their bottom line and have decided to pull away from the NRA,” Weingarten said after her speech.
“It means that something is changing in our culture and I give the kids a lot of credit in their authenticity … They are piecing through something that us adults, even us teachers, have not been able to do. I am really inspired by them and their passion.”
Weingarten said America needs to stop the proliferation of guns and believes that responsible gun owners favor this also.
The NRA leadership is more attuned to the gun manufacturers then to their members, she said.
“Every amendment in the Constitution is conditioned by responsibility,” Weingarten said.
On Saturday, Trump said the decision to arm teachers would be up to the states. He also has said he envisions about 20 percent of teachers and other school personnel carrying weapons.
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