Marching for their students, teachers say more guns in schools are not the answer

WASHINGTON — Among the thousands of people who turned out for the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., were teachers rallying for safer schools and better protections for their students.

When asked about the subject of safety in the wake of countless school shootings, many of them vehemently opposed arming teachers. That proposal had gained traction in response to the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, including support from President Donald Trump.

The Florida legislature recently passed gun legislation, which included a provision that would allow certain teachers to receive weapons training and carry guns in school. Several other state legislatures have considered similar measures.

“I don’t want teachers to be armed. I don’t know a single teacher who wants that,” Heather Hagleberg, who teaches elementary school in Fort Myers, Florida, told HuffPost. “That’s a big, big reason why I’m here.”

“I’d probably quit” rather than carry a gun in school, she added. 

“I would stand in front of my kids and take a bullet,” said Jessica Blythe from Waynesboro, Va., adding that she “would draw the line” at being armed, but said that she has “coworkers who say, ‘yeah, give me a gun.’”

“I served 9 years in the Marine Corps, and even I wouldn’t trust myself with a gun in a school,” Trymaine Rivero, a college math teacher from Orlando, said.

Related: See powerful statements from the marches: 

30 PHOTOS
Notable signs from the March For Our Lives rally
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Notable signs from the March For Our Lives rally
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 24: A large group of Americans and French hold a March for Our Lives anti-NRA anti-gun rally on Place de Trocadero, facing the Eiffel Tower, on March 24, 2018 in Paris, France. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Owen Franken - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Possible contender for my fave sign of the day from Erica. She made it at 1am last night, she said laughing!… https://t.co/fPogWRYRZL
Best signs at #marchforourlivesSTL #marchforourlives #enough #endgunviolencenow https://t.co/w7oaK5QJEw
I love this sign and I wonder if it would trigger @DLoesch. #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/QDU4rVDGk6
This sign deserves a pulitzer #marchforourlives (📸 @claremarienyc) https://t.co/9qHcEjbhq6
Enough said. #VetsVsTheNRA #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/9lLTgGrNbd
#SashayAway https://t.co/tGnrCnEqCK
I walked up as she was explaining the reference to an older gentleman https://t.co/KPyxmFsCAE
I’m at #MarchForOurLives In Boston and this is the best sign I’ve seen so far https://t.co/KhI9fPsORr
More signs here at #MarchForOurLives in D.C. https://t.co/TLxPr2vmbN
Listen to the youth. #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/jprvl6iTD3
💕she’s 4! #marchforourlives https://t.co/4TddUG5xXO
A woman just walked up to this young girl and asked about her sign. “There was a shooting at my high school this we… https://t.co/likqtFRQfx
A protest sign during the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, DC on March 24, 2018. Galvanized by a massacre at a Florida high school, hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to take to the streets in cities across the United States on Saturday in the biggest protest for gun control in a generation. / AFP PHOTO / Alex Edelman (Photo credit should read ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: A demonstrator holds a sign at the start of the March for Our Lives rally March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers, and parents are expected to gather for the anti-gun violence rally, spurred largely by the shooting that took place on Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 people died. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A woman hoists a poster featuring Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the February 2018 Florida high school shooting turned activist and advocate for gun control, at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, DC on March 24, 2018. Galvanized by a massacre at the Florida high school, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in cities across the United States on Saturday in the biggest protest for gun control in a generation. / AFP PHOTO / Eva HAMBACH (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - MARCH 24: People hold signs as they participate in the March For Our Lives event at Pine Trails Park before walking to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on March 24, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. The event was one of many scheduled around the United States calling for gun control after a gunman killed 17 people on February 14 at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Participants hold up signs as students and gun control advocates hold the "March for Our Lives" event demanding gun control after recent school shootings at a rally in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
UNITED STATES - MARCH 24: A demonstrator is seen in the Mall near the student-led March for Our Lives rally on Pennsylvania Avenue to call for action to prevent gun violence on March 24, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 24: A protester holds up a sign disparaging the NRA at the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 24: A demonstrator display her sign during the March For Our Lives Rally on March 24, 2018, at the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, CT. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Protestors hold signs during a "March For Our Lives" demonstration demanding gun control in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
People walk with signs against the NRA during "March for Our Lives", an organized demonstration to end gun violence, in downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
DENVER, CO - MARCH 24: Kristin Miller (C), of Littleton, Colorado holds up a sign as thousands of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Ross Taylor/Getty Images)
MORRISTOWN, NJ - MARCH 24: A demonstrators holds up a sign 'Really?' with a the scales of justice tipped more for guns than students outside the Morristown Town Hall during the March For Our Lives in Morristown, New Jersey, U.S. on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers and parents gathered in Morristown, NJ for the antigun violence rally after the events in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School which killed 17 people. More than 800 related events are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold signs while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A demonstrator holds a sign that reads 'Hey, Hey, NRA! How Many Kids Have You Killed Today,' while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A demonstrator holds a sign while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators hold signs while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, USA - MARCH 24: A woman holds a banner reading 'Grandmas For Gun Control, Because Our Hugs Can't Protect Them From Everything' during 'March For Our Lives' protest against gun violence in the country on March 24, 2018 in Washington, United States. (Photo by Chris Williams/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Yajeh Ndimbie, a kindergarten teacher from Philadelphia, said it would be “horrifying” to have a gun in a classroom of young children.

“I know what my job is. I’ve gone to school to provide children with a great education and to give them love and give them fun and help them learn. I have not gone to school to have a gun,” she said. “I teach kindergarten. It’s baffling to have a gun stay in a kindergarten classroom.”

Schuyler Pietz, a music teacher from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, said that she thinks mental health is a more urgent issue, explaining that her school only has one guidance counselor. Several other teachers raised similar concerns about insufficient numbers of counselors or social workers at their schools, arguing that schools should prioritize that over introducing more guns.

Many teachers also discussed having difficult conversations with their students and colleagues on what to do in the case of a mass shooting. Some recounted having frequent safety drills, such as Caroline Lehman and Sarah Smith, seventh grade teachers from Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“It makes you look at your classroom differently,” Lehman said. As an example, she said that she has thought about how she could use air freshener to spray an assailant.

“I have a hammer in my classroom,” Smith added. “We’ve been told we can use our computer as a weapon.”

Both said that they came to the march, in part, to advocate for more solutions that would restrict guns.

“We have to get background checks to work with kids,” Smith said. “It’s harder to buy cold medicine than an AR-15.”

Dana Liebelson contributed reporting.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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