Alex Gonzalez

We can all agree that all of our schools and all of our students need a lot more resources to achieve, thrive and grow. More counselors. More books. More cultural competency. More qualified teachers. More teachers that look like their students. More spending on foster youth, English learners and low-income students, as the law intends. The bottom line is that students need a positive learning environment.

What they don’t need are more guns on campus, or any guns on school grounds, for that matter.

I work closely with high school students, some of whom have spoken out in the past against CCWs on their campuses. Time and time again, the conversation comes back to not feeling safe knowing there are guns present in the classroom and not trusting some of their teachers to handle guns. This goes to show that some of our high school students are far wiser than a lot of our representatives who are far removed from what really goes on in our public high schools. My generation, the “Millennials,” has flooded social media criticizing and highlighting the absurdity of having armed teachers in our schools.

Here in our community, drive by any high school any time of day and you are likely to see a uniformed officer on or near the grounds. Kern High School District employs so-called school resource officers. Does this mean our schools are protected? Do these officers make our students safe? I’m sure most of these officers do a fine job, but in Parkland Fla., there was an armed school resource officer on campus when the shooter launched his deadly attack. That officer, a law enforcement expert, did nothing, and he’s a trained professional. Now what can we expect of an armed teacher?

A few years ago at Idaho State University, a teacher accidentally shot himself in the foot when his concealed handgun went off.

In 2014 at a Utah elementary school, a teacher carrying a concealed handgun accidentally shot herself in the leg.

In 2016, a group of elementary school students in Pennsylvania found a loaded handgun in the bathroom after a teacher left it behind.

In each of these cases, it was a handgun — a weapon that one can easily conceal. In the most devastating school shootings — Columbine, Newtown and Florida — the shooters used high-powered weapons of war. In skilled hands, the AR-15 — the seemingly preferred weapon of choice in mass shootings — can fire off dozens of rounds per minute, and this assault rifle can hold magazines with up to 100 bullets. Shooters often have multiple magazines on them when they attack, so they simply pop out the spent one and replace with a fresh one to continue the deadly spree. Furthermore, assailants often have access to body armor.

Now ask yourself this question and be honest: What chance does an armed teacher have to protect students against these odds? Not much, and you know it. The solution isn’t more guns or “hardening” our schools. The solution begins with no guns on campus and should then stretch into stricter gun control laws overall.

No matter our differences, most of us want pretty similar things — opportunities to succeed, the chance to love our families without living in fear and peace in our neighborhoods. You wouldn’t know it from politicians, but Americans stand largely united in favor of gun control. In fact, support for stricter gun control laws is at an all-time high among American voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. The poll found that those in favor of stricter gun legislation outnumber those opposed by a measure of more than two-to-one.

California is hearing the message loud and clear. Among other actions that have been approved in the past few years for wiser gun control, lawmakers voted to remove the allowance for a school district superintendent to give permission to someone to have a firearm on campus, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law in 2017.

A gun doesn’t educate. A gun kills, hurts, maims and intimidates.

We don’t need guns in classrooms. We need better leaders in education and representatives that listen to those most impacted.

Alex Gonzalez is a community organizer with Faith in the Valley, a multicultural multifaith organization that addresses issues that greatly impact our communities.