'Not Here': New York Bars Schools From Arming Teachers

New York has shot down President Trump's plan to arm teachers.

People protesting guns in New York City.
People protesting guns in New York City.
By Denis Slattery

New York has shot down President Trump's plan to arm teachers.

A new law signed Wednesday by Gov. Cuomo bars school districts across the state from authorizing anyone but those employed primarily as school resource officers, police or security guards from carrying a firearm on school grounds.

"The answer to the gun violence epidemic plaguing this country has never been and never will be more guns, and today we're expanding New York's nation-leading gun safety laws to further protect our children," Cuomo said.

Last year, Trump suggested arming educators as a way to keep kids safe following the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school that left 17 people dead.

His proposal, long a National Rifle Association talking point in the wake of such tragedies, was echoed in a report issued by a Florida commission that investigated the massacre and has been adopted by school districts across the country.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau), the bill's sponsor, said the prospect of teachers packing heat does nothing to keep kids safe.

"While hundreds of districts across the country have decided to arm teachers in response to mass shootings, in New York, we said, 'not here,' " he said. "Arming classroom teachers is dangerous and takes our focus off of getting weapons out of the hands of those who should not have them."

Many educators, teachers unions and even law enforcement officials agree, pointing out that teachers simply lack the tactical training that law enforcement officers receive on a regular basis.

Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, disagrees with the new law and said it was an example of the lawmakers overstepping their bounds.

"The decision as to whether a teacher should be armed should be up to the individual school district, not the state," he said. "Every district is different, and each has its own needs and budgetary concerns."

King said the group has not openly advocated for arming teachers, but pointed out that armed security staff are stationed at all entrances of the Capitol building.

"Why are politicians more important than our kids?" King added.

The governor also signed legislation Wednesday that directs the state police to create regulations to bolster gun buyback programs, as well as to create programs to safely remove illegal, abandoned or unwanted guns.

Earlier in the week, Cuomo signed a rash of gun-related laws including legislation banning 3D-printed or undetectable guns, extending background check waiting periods for some firearm purchases from three days to 30 and banning bump stocks.

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