Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette Clarke has hailed the outpouring of anti-gun violence activism from high school students across the United States.
Hundreds of students led walk outs and marched following last week’s tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“The outpouring of activism we are seeing from high school students across the country is truly heartening,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “It’s inspiring to see the next generation join us in the fight to end gun violence.
“I believe that we are at a critical moment in our nation’s history,” Clarke added. “From walk-outs to marches across the country, students are making their voices heard. This movement is real. This movement is significant.”
As with other pivotal moments in America’s history, Clarke noted that young people are “leading the way.
“From Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Freedom Riders to Students For a Democratic Society, students have been forming and leading movements for decades,” she said. “We must listen to these brave young people. The time for thoughts, prayers and moments of silence have long passed. It is time for real gun reforms.
“For far too long, Congress has been controlled by a very powerful gun lobby,” she added. “Today, these students have taken back their power.”
The congresswoman said she was “proud of these young people and stand with them as we pursue safer schools, churches, movie theaters and communities.”
On Thursday, President Donald Trump on enthusiastically embraced a National Rifle Association position to arm highly-trained teachers to fortify schools against mass shootings like the one last week Stoneman Douglas High School.
Trump, who said the armed teachers should receive extra pay as an incentive, promoted his idea as demands for stronger gun control intensified across the US.
“You give them a little bit of a bonus, so practically for free, you have now made the school into a hardened target,” Trump said.
The president estimated that 10 percent to 40 percent of school employees would be qualified to handle a weapon, while offering no data for the claim.
He, however, said he would devote US federal money to training armed teachers.
Trump, whose presidential campaign received over US$30 million dollars from the National Rifle Association (NRA), has cycled through a number of proposals — including some gun limits deemed unacceptable by the NRA — in the days since the rampage killed 14 students and three adults last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to the New York Times.
“I don’t want teachers to have guns, I want certain highly adept people, people that understand weaponry, guns — if they really have that aptitude,” Trump said during his second White House meeting in two days to discuss how to respond to the latest school shooting in the US.
He promoted the idea even as a sheriff’s deputy who had been the only armed guard at the high school resigned on Thursday after surveillance video showed that he never tried to enter the school to confront the shooter, the Times said.
As a candidate in 2016, it said Trump campaigned with the support of the NRA and has been an ardent advocate of gun rights.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said she had held a telephonic town hall on Wednesday night in which she discussed the proposal with 60,000 educators, according to the Times.
“The response was universal, even from educators who are gun owners: Teachers don’t want to be armed, we want to teach,” Weingarten said. “We don’t want to be, and would never have the expertise needed to be, sharp shooters; no amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15.”