WASHINGTON DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) today, August 8 released the results of a survey of almost 400 Massachusetts educators, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders on steps the federal government should take to reduce gun violence in schools.
According to the survey respondents, the federal government should
(1) pursue policies that reduce access to firearms in schools and reject policies that place more guns in schools;
(2) strengthen existing gun laws; and
(3) increase support for mental health services.
Senator Warren and Congresswoman Clark sent their report, Keeping Schools Safe: Perspectives from Massachusetts Educators and Families, to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the Chair of President Trump’s Commission on School Safety. Massachusetts consistently has the lowest rates of gun violence in the county, so they urged Secretary DeVos to share the views of their constituents with the Commission and take the recommendations of Massachusetts educators and families into account.
“One young person lost to gun violence is one too many – and the epidemic of gun violence in America cannot continue. Massachusetts has the lowest rate of gun deaths in the county and can serve as a model for the federal government to develop policies that will keep our students and communities safe,” said Senator Warren. “I urge Secretary DeVos and the Commission to take these recommendations from our constituents seriously and act now to curb gun violence.”
“Across the country, too many children are terrified that the next school shooting could happen at their school. Each of us has a responsibility to do everything in our power to end this epidemic of gun violence and keep our kids safe,” said Congresswoman Clark, who represents Framingham.
“I’m grateful that educators and other stakeholders in Massachusetts, who have achieved the lowest rate of gun violence in the country, have shared what works and what we all can do better to end these tragedies. Secretary DeVos and the Commission should make these recommendations a centerpiece of efforts to protect students and our communities,” said Congresswoman Clark.
The survey of Massachusetts stakeholders revealed that:
- Massachusetts stakeholders support policies that reduce, rather than expand, access to firearms in schools. More than two-thirds of survey takers opposed policies that would increase the number of guns in K-12 schools-particularly guns wielded by untrained professionals. Notably, roughly 90 percent of respondents expressed the view that arming teachers would not reduce rates of gun violence in school.
- Massachusetts stakeholders want federal lawmakers to strengthen existing gun laws and make it harder to access firearms. Nearly 70 percent of respondents cited firearm access as a primary cause of gun violence in school, and many identified strong gun regulation as a key way to reduce violence.
- Massachusetts stakeholders believe that increased access to mental health services would make educational institutions safer. Over 90 percent of survey takers felt that making it easier for students to speak with counselors, therapists, and other emotional support professionals would reduce the risk of gun violence.
- Massachusetts stakeholders generally support enhancing school building security, but do not consider it a solution to gun violence. While nearly two-thirds of survey takers generally agreed that improving existing security measures would make schools “more safe,” they expressed substantial concern about the impact of increasing school security infrastructure schools on students’ access to nurturing, supportive learning environments.
The survey results also suggest that the Congress should oppose the Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to school mental health services. In 2015, Congress established the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant Program, the only federal program dedicated to increasing students’ access to school mental health services nationwide. But the Trump Administration has proposed the elimination of this program. In their report, Warren and Clark expressed opposition to efforts to fund school security infrastructure at the expense of this important program that supports school mental health services.
With some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and the lowest rates of gun violence, perspectives from Massachusetts educators and families are valuable in order to develop the common-sense, effective policies that will keep schools safe from senseless gun violence.