Safe Schools—Take Action

I have only been on the job as president of this great organization a few days and several issues are breaking already, including the U.S. Senate releasing its 2023 budget draft for education. We will provide more information on this draft once our team has done a detailed analysis.

The other issue taking center stage is school safety. In accordance with the AFSA resolution on enhancing school safety and stopping gun violence that was passed unanimously during our triennial convention in Puerto Rico last week, AFSA joined with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association and three other key education groups in sending a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary committees urging the reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban.The Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 (H.R. 1808) was approved by the House Committee on the Judiciary July 20 and awaits a full vote in the House.

In the letters to lawmakers, AFSA and its education group allies declared: “We believe that every student deserves to learn and grow in an environment that is safe. But we are at a crisis point. According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, ‘the United States is alone among peer nations in the number of child firearm deaths. In no other similarly large or wealthy country are firearm deaths in the top 4 causes of mortality, let alone the number 1 cause of death among children.’ It is urgent that families, educators, school district leaders, community leaders and elected officials work together to prevent violence in schools and ensure that all students have a safe environment in which to thrive and learn.”

The approved AFSA resolution stated “the American Federation of School Administrators supports a nationwide ban on the manufacture, sale, purchase, possession and use of all semiautomatic weapons and large-capacity ammunition cartridges, except those needed by the military and law enforcement.” H.R. 1808 tracks closely to AFSA’s resolution by barring the import, sale, manufacture or transfer of semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, pistols, bump stocks and high-capacity feeding devices. 

AFSA understands and the approved resolution makes clear that banning assault weapons is but one action Congress needs to take to enhance school safety. The resolution also calls for “comprehensive action from the federal government to protect schoolchildren” and supports “the enactment of a federal law strengthening universal background checks to possess any type of firearm, including closing the so-called gun show loophole.” 

Further, the resolution reflects the need for greater mental health resources to help identify students with significant mental health issues by calling for more funding “to increase the number of counselors, mental health staff, psychologists and social workers in our schools.” The recent enactment of federal anti-violence legislation, which included $1 billion in additional funding for student mental health, as well as proposed investments in mental health in FY23 spending bills, are all steps in the right direction.

You can make a difference. Call your member of Congress and senators at (202) 224-3121 and let them know it's time to address gun issues in our schools.

Please stay safe.