A majority of Massachusetts educators, parents and administrators oppose policies that would increase the number of guns in schools, including proposals to arm teachers, according to findings U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark released Wednesday.
The Massachusetts Democrats, in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, touted the results of their “Keeping Schools Safe” report, which found most respondents believe the federal government should pursue policies that reduce access to firearms in schools, strengthen existing gun laws and increase support for mental health services.
They called on DeVos, who heads President Donald Trump’sCommission on School Safety, to share the report with the full panel and to consider its findings when developing policy proposals.
Arguing that “the epidemic of gun violence in America cannot continue,” Warren offered that Massachusetts — which has a low rate of gun deaths — “can serve as a model for the federal government to develop policies that will keep our students and communities safe.”
“I urge Secretary DeVos and the commission to take these recommendations from our constituents seriously and act now to curb gun violence,” she said in a statement.
Clark added that the commission “should make these recommendations a centerpiece of efforts to protect students and our communities.”
The report, which surveyed nearly 400 Massachusetts teachers, school administrators, parents and others, found that more than two-thirds of respondents oppose policies that would increase the number of guns in K-12 schools, particularly those in which guns would be carried by untrained professionals.
About 9 in 10 stakeholders further expressed concerns that Trump’s suggestion of arming teachers would not reduce rates of gun violence in schools — a policy American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts President Tom Gosnell has called “ill-informed and threatening.”
Further, the report found that nearly 70 percent of respondents cited firearm access as a primary cause of gun violence in schools and 90 percent believe enhanced access to counselors, therapists and other support professions would reduce the risk of gun violence.
About two-thirds of stakeholders, meanwhile, agreed that improving existing security measures could make schools “more safe,” but raised concerns about the impact it could have on students’ access to “nurturing, supportive learning environments.”
Trump established the Commission on School Safety after the deadly February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The panel has been tasked with evaluating and making recommendations to improve school safety relating to recent gun violence.
The commission held its third public listening session Tuesday in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Following the commission’s formation, Clark and Warren sent surveys to Massachusetts teachers, students, parents, principals and others seeking input on actions the federal government could take to reduce or eliminate gun violence in schools.