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."

via Anthony Crider / Flickr

Dozens of "White Lives Matter" rallies were scheduled to take place across America on Sunday. The events were scheduled in semi-private, encrypted chats on the Telegram app between Nazis, Proud Boys, and other right-wing extremists.

The organizers said the rallies would make "the whole world tremble."

However, the good news is that hardly any white supremacists showed up. In fact, the vast majority of people who did show up were counter-protesters.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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