NH teachers union rejects idea of arming teachers

New Hampshire educators are pushing back against a suggestion from the president that teachers be armed in the wake of a mass shooting at a Florida high school.

Seventeen people were killed last week in the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The wake of the shooting, President Donald Trump and some others have pushed the idea of arming some teachers.

"The only way you're going to get it fixed is you need a certain degree of offensive power within the school," Trump said.

Trump said he wants to eliminate gun-free zones on campuses, but the president of New Hampshire's teachers union said that adding firearms to a list of teachers' responsibilities is not realistic.

"We need to be there for the children," NH-NEA President Megan Tuttle said. "Not everyone who has a gun is going to be trained the way they should be. It could take months of training. And to do that, it's just not something that we support."

Tuttle said educators are on edge, but paying to bring guns into schools won't solve the problem.

"Let's fund guidance counselors," she said. "Let's fund mental illness awareness or training. Let's fund the things we need currently -- paper, pencils, technology -- and then maybe we can talk about other things to be funded."

Firearms advocate Penny Dean said she believes there is a solution that wouldn't cost taxpayers a thing.

"There's been a lot of grandparents and parents and retired family members who had law enforcement experience, military experience and firearms experience, many who would volunteer, so it would cost the taxpayers nothing to guard the schools," Dean said.

Tuttle said common ground can be found, and she said she has created a coalition with first responders and mental health professionals to open a dialog about realistic answers to school gun violence.

"This is something that not one person, not one group is going to be able to find the answer to, and so there has to be a big discussion involving the educators, whose main focus are the children of New Hampshire," she said.

Tuttle said the teachers union wants to establish a $100,000 death benefit to be paid to any educator killed in the line of duty as a result of school violence. A bill supporting the idea was passed by the House, and the Finance Committee plans to evaluate it next week.

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