New plans to arm teachers are a huge step back in gun control policy.

It’s been less than a month since the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida. But while things are slowly changing, the Trump administration may be working to bring more guns into schools.

According to recent policy proposals released by the White House, the administration is moving forward on its plan to provide "rigorous firearms training" for "specially qualified school personnel."

These proposals come on the heels of President Donald Trump’s comments that gun-free zones don’t work. At a Feb. 22 listening session, Trump said, "A gun-free zone to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is, let’s go in and let’s attack because bullets aren’t coming back at us."


While it’s yet unclear who exactly will be trained and armed — CNN reports that the plan also includes provisions that would help usher military and retired law enforcement officials into positions in the education system — the idea that instructors should handle firearms has been met with swift criticism since its inception.

After Florida politicians rejected a ban on assault rifles and pushed a $67 million bill that would put 37,000 armed educators in schools statewide through the legislature, the National Education Association denounced the idea, making it clear that arming teachers would turn places of learning into something more akin to prison.

Allowing more guns onto school property is not the answer.

"Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence," NEA president Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement. "Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms."

Alexis Underwood, a seventh-grade English teacher, president of the Association of Bay County Educators, and a retired Marine, told a Florida news station that arming teachers would create more danger when the idea of arming educators was first mentioned in February.  

"One of the things that my drill instructor told me is that even individuals in the military, in a moment of crisis, when the gun fires for real, are going to forget what they’ve been taught to do and they’re going to run or they’re going to make stupid mistakes," Underwood said.

Speaking to MSNBC, Underwood emphasized that competency and trust were the main issues at stake. "When I was a Marine, I trained 52 weeks a year to be combat-ready," she explained. "Teachers just don’t have that luxury. I simply cannot train enough and teach full time and be combat-ready." She added that she didn’t trust the Florida legislature to have her back in times of emergency and crisis.

The most recent plans have also been met with staunch opposition on social media.

There's that saying that goes "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun," but that’s simply not true.

In the Parkland case, specifically, an armed deputy was on duty at the school. He never went inside to confront the shooter. And in another recent high-profile case, a Georgia teacher sent a school into chaos after he fired a gun inside a classroom.

A recent study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research found further proof discrediting this theory. According to the results, allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons didn’t lower violent crime. Instead, violent crime went up by as much as 15% in the 10 years after states passed such laws.

Of course, research on this topic is hard to come by. And that’s no accident.

If you’ve ever wondered why gun violence isn’t studied more often, you should know that it’s not due to a lack of caring. Instead, the government actively prevents studying gun violence as a public health issue. That’s not to say that all research into gun violence is banned, but a highly-criticized 1996 spending bill amendment bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using funds to "advocate or promote gun control."

The CDC does track national vital statistics generally and includes figures on firearm deaths, but no national database tracks annual gun deaths in detail. Everytown for Gun Safety, which uses CDC data, notes guns were involved in 38,656 deaths in 2016 and that a five-year average puts the tally at around 96 gun deaths occur per day.

Ending gun violence is a fight that’s just begun.

Since the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting, the teen activists of Parkland have galvanized the nation into action. Several major retailers have dropped sales of assault weapons. Some have raised the minimum age of buying guns from 18 to 21. And corporations including Delta, United, and Enterprise have cut their connections to the National Rifle Association. While that movement and shift is important, it's not nearly enough. And even as the White House is set to endorse plans to fix the nation’s background check system and provide funds to stop violence in school, we’re reminded that more must be done.

Student protestors march on the capitol. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

But that "more" shouldn’t be arming educators.

Speaking to The Washington Post, one parent whose children attend school in an Ohio district where security measures include gun safes holding semiautomatic pistols, said, "It doesn’t make me feel better that the teachers are armed. It just gives me new things to worry about."

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

Keep Reading Show less