The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund recently joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Advancement Project, and the National Disability Rights Network to discuss why current efforts in Congress and by the Trump administration to increase “school security,” will not address the nation’s gun violence epidemic. Participants on the call included Todd A. Cox, director of policy at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Kristine Lucius, Executive Vice President for Policy, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director, Advancement Project and Curt Decker, Executive Director, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN).

Guns have continually plagued communities of color and with the president suggesting that a possible solution is arming teachers, many are alarmed. “School police and school safety are not synonymous,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project’s national office. “Arming teachers and investing in more school police is a recipe for deadly mistakes. Children of color will be hurt the most by criminalization, and undocumented youth may face deportation due the deputization of police to ICE in some states. This is not the answer to keeping young people safe. The solutions are the strategies students called for during national walkouts last week: more counselors, mental health professionals and student supports.”

The conversation touched on how militarizing schools would harm and further criminalize children, especially children of color and children with disabilities, not make them safer. “Our Black youth are at greater risk of harsher and unjust punishment because of racially discriminatory school discipline practices,” said Todd A. Cox, director of policy at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “Rather than focusing on the root causes of school shootings and gun violence, this administration is calling for more police presence in school and arming school personnel with guns, which only puts our Black students at more risk. If Congress truly wants our schools and students to thrive and be safe, the government must end the criminalization of our students of color and address excessive discipline that contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline.”

The group spoke out on the urgent need for Congress to provide real solutions. Kristine Lucius, executive vice president of policy for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights stated, “we need real solutions to the epidemic of gun violence in our society, like increasing safety restrictions and limitations on gun purchases. That is what is going to keep all of us safe.”