‘Books In Schools Not Bullets!’: Local Leaders Blast Proposal To Arm Teachers

Sunday, November 18, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

District 89 school board member Regina Rivers speaks out against the IASB’s proposed resolution during a press conference convened by state Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, right, in Chicago. | Photo by Tara A. Gray/Facebook 

On Saturday, state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) convened a press conference in Chicago to protest a resolution that could have empowered local school boards to allow teachers and administrators to carry guns in school.

The proposed resolution, which was introduced by the Illinois Association of School Boards and other education leadership organizations in Chicago, failed during a vote at the IASB’s meeting held later that day.

Welch was joined by more than a dozen activists and elected officials, including U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley, whose 5th District includes some of Melrose Park, and Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview District 89 board member Regina Rivers, outside of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago, where the IASB meeting took place.

Some supporters of the proposal cited slow response times by law enforcement in rural school districts.

“School shootings take an average of 12 minutes,” Dan Walther, a school board member in Peoria who supports the proposal, told WGN 9. “I mean, there’s no way a resource officer could get there. So what we’re trying to do is give these small rural districts the option of doing this. Nobody is forced to do this.”

According to the proposed resolution, local school boards would have the option of developing school safety and protection plans that “may include administrators, faculty and/or other staff” who have all of the qualifications and prerequisites for carrying firearms to do so on school grounds.

The resolution urges the Illinois General Assembly to support legislation that would allow teachers and administrators to be armed. The controversial proposal ultimately failed, with IASB members voting 203 to 179, WGN reports.

“We as a board of seven members do not support this resolution,” said Rivers during the protest that preceded the IASB vote.

Rivers said that the D89 board believes that it is “counterproductive” for students to have to focus on armed personnel in schools.

“Even professional law enforcement persons do not know how they will react when faced with an armed shooter and current state law prohibits firearms on state grounds,” Rivers said, adding that firearms in school will promote a climate of fear and not one of “learning or enjoying education.”

Welch said that he wondered if some IASB members in support of the resolution to arm teachers were aware “that what they are contemplating is in violation” of two federal and state laws, including the Gun Free Schools Act of 1990 and Illinois’ Firearm Concealed Carry Act.

“This resolution is in complete contradiction to both of those laws,” Welch said.

Welch has drafted a House resolution “supporting schools as gun-free zones and declaring the Legislature opposes arming teachers and administrators,” according to a press release his office put out over the weekend.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers also released its own resolution countering the IASB’s proposed resolution.

“This group stands together and condemns that resolution,” Welch said Saturday. “We ask them to consider putting books in our schools and not bullets.” VFP 

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