Not One Denver South High School Student Raised a Hand When Asked if Teachers Should be Allowed to Carry Guns into Schools
Junior Vanessa Simkowitz and 100 of her classmates at South High School on Friday firmly rejected the idea that arming teachers is the answer to preventing mass school shootings in America.
Simkowitz especially wanted to make her stance on the issue crystal clear.
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, and you can quote me on that,” she said. “Why would you bring even more guns into a situation like that? It doesn’t make sense.”
Simkowitz and other South High student leaders were urged on Friday to loudly and publicly share their views on gun violence by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., who said their opinions could finally sway lawmakers to pass gun control legislation in the United States.
Already, minds are being changed by the walkouts and activism sparked by the Parkland, Florida, shooting that killed 17, almost all of whom were high school students, DeGette said. “I am so proud of high school students in Florida and in Denver who are saying ‘Enough is enough.'”
“You guys will be the change agents in all of this,” she said.
DeGette, who graduated from South High in 1975, called for a question-and-answer session about gun violence in the wake of the Parkland violence. DeGette favors reinstating the assault weapons ban, banning bump stocks — large-capacity ammunition feeding devices — and online ammunition purchases.
She also supports expanding background check requirements to cover all gun sales and raising the age limit for the purchase of a rifle or assault-style gun to 21. Public school teachers also shouldn’t be armed, DeGette said.
But she was pressed by several students why those and other gun control measures have not become law. DeGette put the blame on the National Rifle Association.
The NRA, she said, “is the most powerful special interest group in the country. And the Republicans won’t do anything unless the NRA agrees to it,” she said.
Not one student raised a hand when DeGette asked if teachers should be allowed to carry guns into schools. She later said school districts, particularly those in Colorado rural areas, should be allowed to set their own guidelines if they want to arm their personnel.
DeGette also called for more funding to treat mental illness, a move that could curtail school violence.
Simkowitz said she felt safe at South High but her anxiety levels rise when she hears of another school shooting elsewhere in the country.
“You just can’t get it out of your mind, that it could happen here,” she said. “It’s not something you can easily forget.”