Gun violence has become an issue having a serious negative impact on American schools — and it’s time for Congress to do something about it.
That was among the messages Prairie Village teacher Tom Niermann delivered to a crowd of nearly 250 fellow educators and supporters Saturday at a “Teacher Town Hall” event organized by his campaign for the 3rd District seat in Congress currently occupied by Kevin Yoder.
Niermann, who’s in a hotly contested race for the Democratic nomination, told the attendees that he was frustrated that government had done nothing of substance to address gun violence in schools since he started his career 26 years ago. Niermann noted that in his first year as a teacher, two of his students were killed in a drive-by shooting. A third student brought a gun into Niermann’s classroom to “to intimidate some rivals that he knew he would run across later that day.”
“That was 26 years ago — guns in my classroom — and nothing has changed,” Niermann said.
He chided political leaders who have suggested no laws can stop those who are determined to carry out a shooting.
“Politicians have declared by their inaction that the lives of school children don’t mean enough to them,” Niermann said. “Should ever a politician retreat behind that empty phrase, ‘There’s nothing that can be done,’ you let them know that they are lying to you. There is so much that can be done.”
He called explicitly for a ban on “military-style assault weapons,” an expansion of universal background checks, requiring domestic abusers to forfeit their weapons, and for the mandatory study of gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control.
“No child’s right to live free from fear — no child’s right to live — should ever be supplanted by the bottom line of machine gun manufacturers,” Niermann said.
The event featured a panel discussion by other area lawmakers and candidates, including Rep. Brett Parker, a teacher in the Olathe School District; Shawnee City Councilmember Lindsey Constance, a teacher in the Shawnee Mission School District; former Blue Valley Superintendent Dave Benson, who is running for the District 48 seat in the Kansas House; and Rep. Kathy Wolfe-Moore of Wyandotte County.
During the question and answer portion of the event, an attendee asked what the panelists thought of President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers. Niermann said he couldn’t fathom the government asking teachers to be prepared to take the lives of a pupil. “I will not arm myself to kill a student,” he said.
You can see full video of the forum below:
Tom Niermann, running for the 3rd District Congressional nomination, is hosting a “Teacher Town Hall” on education issues at Sylvester Powell in Mission.
Posted by Shawnee Mission Post on Saturday, February 24, 2018