Teachers Urge School Districts To Enhance School Safety After Denver Shooting

by Ryan Lee
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Many Colorado teachers gathered in the state Capitol on Friday to urge lawmakers to take action after a 17-year-old Denver student shot two school employees, then ran away and committed suicide. Around 1,500 teachers and their supporters spoke out for improved security measures and more mental health help in schools, joining students and parents who already held similar discussions at the Capitol.

School shootings are happening more often than ever in the United States. At a rally, teachers shared their worries when they go into safety lockdowns which happen frequently.

They asked questions about what happened last Wednesday at East High School, where a student was being checked for weapons due to behavioral issues and a current firearm charge.

Some teachers at East High School said that on Friday during the rally, they weren’t aware of any students getting checked for weapons. Josh Garfinkel, an English teacher said, “I just want everyone to be safe and I don’t want anyone bringing guns into the school”.

Schools got canceled on Friday in Denver because of a shooting. Officials have said they will put police officers with guns inside city high schools until the end of this school year. This is different from what happened a few years ago after George Floyd was killed by police, which caused people to protest about racial inequality.

On Friday, a bunch of teachers went to the Colorado capitol. They stood on the steps, made speeches and shouts and even played buzzing music from horns and drums. After that, they all walked around the building and ended up going inside.

Raegan Haines, who’s an elementary school teacher said that three times this year she has faced dangerous lockdowns within her own school and thinks it should be harder for people to get guns.

The teacher said that when they entered the Capitol, they had to go through metal detectors and noticed everything was gold. She also questioned why she had to act as protection for her students and if other schools give the same sense of security.

The Democrats in Colorado are in control of both the state’s house and senate. They have decided that gun control is a top priority for them. Laws could be passed that would stop people aged 18 or younger from buying guns, make it so any person can ask for a gun to be taken away from someone who might hurt themselves or others, add a three-day waiting period after buying a gun, and ban semi-automatic firearms (guns that fire one shot at a time).

It is unlikely that the ban on semi-automatic weapons will pass. It is up to Governor Jared Polis of Colorado to decide what happens to the other laws. He approves of red flag laws, but not raising the age at which people can have guns or having a waiting period of three days for buying guns.

Teachers also mentioned their students are suffering from mental health issues, yet there isn’t enough support from psychologists and social workers.

At East High School, there are only a few psychologists and social workers to take care of 2,500 students. Kristy Skarphol, a math teacher at the school, said that due to all the lockdowns, they don’t have enough resources to help everyone. She added that they’re stretched too far for what they need.

Bedayn is a reporter who is part of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America (which is also a non-profit organization) works to put journalists in local newsrooms to cover topics that don’t get much attention in the news.

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