Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.


Sandy Hook Educators Push to Make Background Checks a Campaign Issue

By Lauren Camera — August 14, 2014 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Teachers and other school staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., are making another push for firearms background-check legislation in Congress ahead of the November midterm elections.

Thirty-six educators who survived the 2012 mass school shooting, which killed 20 children and six teachers, crafted a letter they’re hoping school employees across the country send to members of Congress.

“Millions of voters are mobilizing this coming election to stand by candidates who support common-sense steps to ending gun violence,” they wrote. “Listen to your constituents, especially the educators and parents in your district. We are counting on you to protect us. Do that, or get voted out.”

Specifically, the group is pressing for lawmakers to support a bipartisan measure, introduced in the House by Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and in the Senate from Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Penn. It would expand the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including at guns shows, over the Internet, and through classified ads.

Under the bill, background checks would be conducted through a federally licensed dealer, states would report convicted “dangerous” criminals and the “seriously” mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The proposal explicitly bans the federal government from creating a registry, one of the biggest gripes many conservatives and the powerful National Rifle Association have against any background-check legislation. You can read the text of the bill here.

The bipartisan bill was defeated in the Senate back in April 2013, after it lost the support of four Democrats and failed to garner the 60 votes needed to move forward.

“After the shootings at our school, we vowed to support public officials committed to reducing the gun violence that plagues our country, our schools and our communities,” the Sandy Hook group wrote. “We don’t want what happened to us to happen to anyone else. But here’s the thing: It keeps happening.”

There have been 74 school shootings since the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown tragedy, the letter notes.

The American Federation of Teachers, which supports the background-check measure, is throwing its support behind the push to make gun violence a campaign issue.

“As these courageous educators send a powerful message to those with the power to make change, they also set an incredible example for their students and their community,” AFT president Randi Weingarten said. “By turning their unimaginable grief into constructive engagement, they remind us all of the importance of never giving up, never giving in to despair, and always working for a better world.”

The letter comes just weeks after the death of James Brady, former White House press secretary under President Ronald Reagan, who was shot in an attempted assassination on Reagan in 1981 and, as a result, permanently disabled.

Mr. Brady subsequently became the driving force behind the original background-check bill that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993, and continued to be a prominent face of those advocating for additional gun safety measures through his organization, The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP