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New York prohibits guns for teachers, Rockville Centre Board of Education talks school safety

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that bans the arming of teachers in New York State on July 31 in an effort to protect students and teachers by keeping guns out of the classroom. Under the law, only licensed security personnel and law enforcement officials will be authorized to carry firearms on school grounds.

With the increasing number of school shootings, a national debate has ensued as to whether or not to arm teachers. After the shooting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2018, certain officials, including President Donald J. Trump, called for arming teachers. Across the country, more than 200 districts have adopted measures allowing teachers to carry guns. In Rockville Centre, however, the school board, administration and local public officials have been adamant that guns do not belong in the school buildings.

“Over the last few years, the RVC Board of Education and district administration have carefully thought out and executed a comprehensive safety plan for all of our schools, that includes, but is not limited to, an increase in security guards, anterooms for each of our buildings equipped with state-of-the-art security software and improved best practices and training for all of our staff on keeping our children safe,” said the Rockville Centre Board of Education in a statement. “We feel our teachers have a most important job in educating our students and as a district, prefer to support ongoing efforts to increase security over expecting our teachers to carry guns in schools. It is our goal to keep weapons out of our schools entirely and have our schools continue to house our children in a productive and safe learning environment.”  

Keeping weapons out of the schools extends to the security guards as well. There are about a dozen security guards at South Side High School, five at the middle school and one in each elementary school.

Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Judy Griffin introduced the legislation after the federal government called to arm teachers instead of passing common-sense gun control.

“While hundreds of districts across the country have decided to arm teachers in response to mass shootings, in New York, we said, ‘not here’,” said Kaminsky. “Arming classroom teachers is dangerous and takes our focus off of getting weapons out of the hands of those who should not have them. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this vital piece of legislation—our children’s safety demands no less.”

“Arming teachers with guns can only lead to additional tragedies. While we will always remember the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, this legislation ensures that teachers will never have the burden of choosing between protecting their students or themselves from a violent shooter,” said Griffin. “I was proud to introduce this legislation in the New York State Assembly and I thank Governor Cuomo for signing it into law so that the children of New York State will be able to learn in a safe environment without the threat of unintended consequences from a gun in their classroom.”