More Guns, More Police: Not the Answer to Stopping Gun Violence Civil Rights Group Says

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   

December 21, 2012
Contact: Leila McDowell 202 306 7947

MORE GUNS, MORE POLICE: NOT THE ANSWER TO STOPPING GUN VIOLENCE CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP SAYS

 

“Schools remain the safest places for our children. The NRA’s got it wrong, we need fewer guns not more. The NRA’s plan of a police officer in every school is an ill-conceived approach to ending senseless gun violence.” - Advancement Project Co Director Judith Browne Dianis.

Advancement Project is a multiracial next generation civil rights organization that focuses on issues of democracy and race. The organization has worked for over a decade to bring common sense school discipline policies to public schools.

(Washington DC) – One week after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association has called for putting armed police officers in every school as the best way to protect children from gun violence. In a press conference today, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre urged Congress not to pass common-sense gun legislation, but to immediately concentrate police resources in K-12 schools.

“Everyone agrees the safety of our children should be our highest priority and our schools are safe places. The NRA’s proposal is misguided.  The NRA wants to fight guns with guns instead of banning them and strictly regulating them. Our children need safe places of learning not fortresses.  The Sandy Hook shootings were devastating. Schools must plan and be prepared for emergencies. More counselors are needed to spot young people in need of help. Guns are not the answer.

In inner cities across the country, we already have schools with police, security, surveillance cameras, metal detectors and drug-sniffing dogs – and the outcome has been disastrous for our youth. Far from making students feel safe and protected, this trend of an increased police presence has led to increased student anxiety and extreme school disciplinary measures, including arresting, handcuffing and locking up young people for minor misbehavior.  The grim reality of what happens when you staff police officers in our nation’s schools is that instead of handling minor offenses, such as talking back to teachers or schoolyard fights, with in-school disciplinary measures, a shocking number of young people are being pushed into police stations and juvenile detention centers contributing to high dropout rates and students ultimately ending up in prison instead of in college or a career” Dianis said.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights shows that of students arrested or referred to law enforcement, more than 70 percent are African American or Latino. With the highest documented number of school-related arrests in the nation, the state of Florida reported 16,377 student arrests and referrals to law enforcement in 2010-2011 alone. The vast majority of these arrests were for minor misdemeanors, or subjective offenses like “disorderly conduct” and “disruption,” which could have, and should have, been handled by the school’s internal discipline system.

In one of the country’s most extreme cases, this year federal investigators discovered that officials in Meridian, Mississippi were arresting and locking up mostly African-American children and children with disabilities f or violations that included wearing the wrong color socks, tardiness and using vulgar language. In April, a 6-year-old Georgia girl was arrested and handcuffed after throwing a temper tantrum in her kindergarten class.

 

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