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Civil Rights Groups Speak Out Against Guns in Schools

By Daniel Cherry | Published 28 Mar 2013 04:34pm | comments
Mississippi civil rights organizations are calling on state lawmakers to reject a bill that would allow school employees to carry firearms. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, the groups say more guns means more danger for students. 
 
The bill would provide funding to police departments to pay for more armed School Resource Officers in Mississippi schools. The Mississippi ACLU, the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center gathered on the steps of the state Department of Education Thursday in protest of legislation. Nancy Kohsin-Kintigh with the ACLU says the money spent on officers could be better spent on education.
 
"We're saying no to guns in school, and we're saying let's come to some common sense solutions on keeping our kids safe. We know that armed police in our schools is not the answer. We know this for sure."
 
Opponents of the legislation say School Resource Officers treat misbehaving students as criminals instead of children. Layla Fitzgerald, with the Children's Defense Fund says lawmakers haven't looked at communities outside their own for solutions to the school safety problem.
 
"I think the legislature should go into these communities and see the children they're really making decisions about and get them to the table on making decisions on how they would feel more safe in their communities instead of just thinking from a head. Come down to where we're actually working, and see what we're dealing with and give us opportunities that way."
 
When the Senate version passed the House, representatives added in a provision to allow school employees to carry firearms as well. As representatives debated the bill on the floor, House Education Committee Chairman John Moore said Mississippi might be able to avoid a Newtown style school shooting by arming employees.
 
"All it would have took was just one person in that building with a weapon that could have stopped that man, but as we sit right now we have 500,000 students sitting in our classes everyday in public schools in Mississippi that are absolutely defenseless in the event of something like that happening."
 
Lawmakers from both chambers are currently in conference working out the details between the House and Senate version of the bill. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.

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