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Teachers use #ArmMeWith to ask for anything but guns

Several gun rights advocates suggest giving teachers guns to prevent the next school shooting

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Friday 23 February 2018 23:25 GMT
Lawrence Nodarse, a school teacher from Hollywood, Florida, photographs signs during a march at the US Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on 17 February 2018.
Lawrence Nodarse, a school teacher from Hollywood, Florida, photographs signs during a march at the US Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on 17 February 2018. (Reuters)

In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting teachers are posting on social media using #ArmMeWith to ask for more resources, not guns.

Several gun rights advocates, including US President Donald Trump, have suggested a solution to gun violence in schools is to provide firearms to teachers.

Olivia Bertels, a Kansas middle school English teacher, and Brittany Wheaton, an English teacher in Utah began the movement earlier this week.

The pair has a friend who teaches at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 14 students and three adults were killed by a gunman using an AR-15 assault-style weapon.

In the wake of the tragedy, several survivors have been passionately speaking to the media, interacting with politicians on Twitter, staging marches and lie-ins, participating in a town hall meeting with the powerful lobbying group the National Rifle Association (NRA), and speaking with Mr Trump on gun control reform just days after attending their friends’ funerals.

Ms Bertels and Ms Wheaton told CNN they started the campaign so teachers could also have a say in how to prevent gun violence in schools.

Smaller class sizes so they can get to better know their students, updated books and technology, better mental health resources are just some of the items listed on signs the teachers have in their pictures and tweets.

Florida teacher speaks on gun control: 'our founding fathers didn't have this in mind'

According to the New York Times, the average class size ranges from 23.1 to 24.3, but for some like Utah high school teacher Chris Peck, its 40 students. He said he sees more than 200 students a day.

Urban school in poorer neighbourhoods and rural schools often lack the resources for social workers, guidance counsellors, and much-needed computers for students to effectively learn and be healthy.

Public school teachers regularly establish crowdfunding pages at the beginning of the school year to purchase basic supplies for their students, recognising many may not be able to afford them on their own.

"Teachers already shoulder a huge burden when it comes to educating properly, due to lack of funding, support and resources and making sure their students are taken care of emotionally. Asking us to now carry the kill is irreparably damaging, even if we never have to discharge our weapon,” wrote Ms Wheaton in her Instagram post.

There have been more than 7,000 Instagram posts in the four days since the movement began.

Some teachers asked for things outside of the classroom too. One teacher wrote: “#ArmMeWith politicians who care more about kids than donations”.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA spent $3.2m in lobbying in 2016, a little over $1m in campaign contributions, and over $54m in "outside spending," which is money spent "against candidates" who favour stricter gun control or banning assault-style weapons like the AR-15 used in Parkland, Florida, and the Las Vegas massacre where 58 people were killed.

Ms Wheaton told CNN that "with school funding being cut yearly and the number of mass shootings increasing, it's important to recognise that the root of the problem is much deeper than just stopping all mass shootings immediately. We have to start with arming schools with the appropriate funding and resources to take action for change."

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