Uhlich, educators join to censure NRA report

Having school staffers carry firearms is a bad idea, they agree
2013-04-03T00:00:00Z 2013-04-03T08:19:45Z Uhlich, educators join to censure NRA reportCarmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Tucson City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich and several local educators on Tuesday denounced an NRA report suggesting that schools train selected staff members to carry firearms on campuses to keep students safer.

The report, issued Tuesday by the National Rifle Association, "attempts to distract us from comprehensive and meaningful measures to prevent gun violence," Uhlich said at a news conference at Jacobs Park, 3300 N. Fairview Ave. (Read about the NRA report on A1.)

She said meaningful action would be Congress passing universal background checks for gun buyers, and bans on high-capacity magazines and military style firearms.

Nicholas Clement, superintendent of the Flowing Wells Unified School District, said a day does not go by when he does not think of students' safety. He said the NRA report does not touch on basic needs, such as architectural design to keep areas on campuses visible, construction of fencing, more counselors to deal with student intervention and prevention programs, and professional school resource officers.

Budget cuts make it more difficult for districts to reach their safety goals, Clement said. In dealing with safety issues on campuses, it takes much more than a simplistic approach about arming and training staff members, he said.

"Schools are safe if kids feel safe. We need to have lots of resources," Clement said.

Roger Pfeuffer, a former Tucson Unified School District superintendent who was an educator for more than 40 years, said, "The NRA recommendations are off the mark."

The group's suggestion of making schools' staff members armed guards is muddying the waters, Pfeuffer said. He said he supports more funding for school resource officers, and school counselors to deal with student intervention programs.

Congress is expected to vote on gun-control measures next week, Pfeuffer said. "We need to stop the flow of guns going to people who should not have guns. Universal background checks will do that," he said.

Vicki Balentine, former Amphitheater Public Schools superintendent, agreed with Pfeuffer, adding that no student died from gun violence on campuses in the school districts where they worked. She said a common conversation among educators is that schools are one of the safest places in America.

Youths are dying in neighborhood streets and in homes due to gun violence, Pfeuffer said.

The educators also commented that the American Federation of Teachers does not support the NRA's proposal.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@azstarnet.com or 573-4104.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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