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From the Front Lines of Public Education: Connecticut Teachers Support Stronger Gun Laws

In overwhelming numbers, Connecticut teachers support tougher gun laws and additional funding to modernize school facilities to provide safe and secure public schools, according to the first poll of Connecticut teachers conducted on gun laws and school safety, released today by the Connecticut Education Association (CEA).

This is the first time teachers have been asked for their opinion in a comprehensive manner that is representative of educators’ views across Connecticut,” said CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg. “We want legislators to establish new and strengthened laws that protect the overall safety of children, schools, and our communities—including commonsense gun laws and funding to address safety issues in public schools,” he added.

At a news conference held today at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Waxenberg continued, “We are encouraged by the response to address the practical and systemic issues raised by the senseless massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We are hopeful that legislators will listen to teachers and pass legislation that will help prevent this type of tragedy from ever happening again.”

The CEA survey findings show teachers overall support stronger gun safety laws and specific proposals to make communities safer:

  • Almost all teachers surveyed (98 percent) favor extending criminal and mental health background checks for all gun purchases.
  • A large majority (88 percent) support banning the sale and possession of military-style semi-automatic assault weapons to everyone except the police and military.
  • Eighty-seven percent of teachers surveyed also support banning the sale and possession of high-capacity magazine clips. 
  • A strong majority (85 percent) oppose any proposals allowing teachers to carry guns in schools.
  • Nine out of ten members (92 percent) believe the state should provide funding to local public school districts to modernize facilities to address today’s school safety issues.

When the numbers for all members are compared to members who are most familiar with guns, there is little to no change. Key findings for members who are gun owners, have guns in their home, are hunters, or are related to hunters:

  • More than three-quarters (77 percent) support stronger gun safety laws.
  • Almost all (98 percent) favor extending background checks.
  • Eight out of ten (83 percent) favor banning high-capacity magazine clips.
  • Seventy-eight percent favor banning the sale and possession of semi-automatic assault weapons.
  • More than three-quarters (77 percent) are against plans to arm teachers.

CEA Vice President Jeff Leake joined Waxenberg at the news conference. Leake was at the inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. this month, and he summed up what he heard. “The Newtown tragedy was prominent and on the minds of everyone I spoke with in Washington. The horrific shooting that took the lives of 20 innocent children and six educators has galvanized the country, and we strongly urge legislators, especially here in Connecticut, to act now to do all they can to keep our schools safe sanctuaries for learning.”

The poll of 400 CEA teacher members statewide was conducted January 19-21, 2013, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

  1. Lloyd W. Stableford #

    I am not a gun owner. I don’t know all of the ramifications of advocating for personalizing guns with technology that keeps them from firing if they ever get into the wrong hands. However, I am deeply concerned about the safety of innocent lives that
    might come under attack by misguided individuals who get their hands on guns which do not belong to them.
    I reference an article which appears in the January 27, 2013 Huffington Post, “’Smart Guns,’ Designed To Be Fired Only By Owner, Have Battled History,” by Adam Geller. The writer puts forth a brief history of an idea that has been kicked around for years, sidelined by intense suspicion, doubts about feasibility and pressure tactics. He notes that pro-gun groups look at the technology as a limitation on personal rights, especially if required by the government. On the other hand, he points out that some gun control groups are concerned that Americans will stock pile weapons because the recognition technology will make the guns appear safer than they are.
    The article goes on to relate the mid-nineties experience of the Colt Manufacturing Company in its initial development of recognition technology. Although the company was on the way to achieving success, pressure from state affiliated National Rifle Association groups to boycott Colt and the replacement of its CEO at the time led the company to abandon the project.
    Likewise, an attempt by the manufacturer, Smith & Wesson met a similar fate. It had signed an agreement with the Clinton administration to develop a smart gun.
    At a state level, the 1999 New Jersey legislature supported a grant for New Jersey Institute of Technology to study personalized gun technology. Despite its success in creating a prototype with a 97 percent recognition rate, the NJIT was unable to connect with a gun manufacturer due to outside pressure of industry activists.
    With the latest advocacy by President Obama in his enactment of twenty-three executive orders, one of which looks to new gun technology, there is renewed in its development and manufacture.
    In fact, two European companies, TriggerSmart Ltd. of Limerick, Ireland, and Armatix GmbH of Unterfoehring, Germany are well on the way to producing recognition technology for weapons. They are looking at the potential for sale in the United States.
    All of this said, I really feel that the development and manufacture of recognition technology for guns is now. The argument that it is a limitation on personal rights fails in my opinion in that there are laws requiring the use of seat belts in automobiles, a measure that has saved countless lives. The fear that there will be stock piling of weapons does not make sense to me in that those weapons still would have recognition capabilities and therefore, would be safer than what exists at the present.
    I would hope that Connecticut takes a leadership role and among other means make the development of so-called “smart guns” a priority.

    January 28, 2013

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