Sen. Kamala Harris Criticizes Armed Teacher Proposals, Fears 'Implicit Bias' Could Lead To Deaths Of 'Children Of Color'
Harris: "We don’t need any more tragedies."
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) voiced her concerns about arming teachers with guns, citing the negative impact it could have on students of color during a Senate hearing this week, The Hill reports. In a hearing with David Bowdich, the associate deputy director of the FBI, Harris said that because of implicit bias, arming teachers with guns could put black and Latinx students in harm's way.
"We all carry implicit bias, and it's important that we are aware of it when we make decisions, especially exercise judgment that might result in harm or even death to another person," Harris said, according to CNS News.
"And here's why I say that," she added. "There's an overwhelming body of evidence that shows that harsh discipline protocols disproportionately impact children of color. We know that [given] the studies that talk about what the rates are in terms of suspensions and expulsions from schools."
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The Trump administration has begin advocating for teachers to carry guns following the shooting in Parkland, Florida; also following that shooting, Florida passed a bill that would allow for some teachers to be armed.
With that in mind, the California senator asked Bowdich, "Do you have any concern about a policy that would result in arming teachers, and concern that we should make sure that if something like that would occur, that there would be training around implicit bias?"
Bowdich answered by noting the FBI offers implicit bias training to its officers.
"Senator, it's a good question," Bowdich said. "I never really put the two together, but I have not seen the document that you're referencing. I think whatever we decide, training is necessary on all fronts. The implicit bias training that we in the FBI administer, I believe it was two years ago, is actually very important for the organization as a whole, both internally but also from the optics of the external as well."
Harris responded that as commendable as that is, everyone needs to be aware of implicit bias.
Harris also criticized Trump's proposal that would make arming teacher with firearms a reality.
"As a career prosecutor I have worked with many communities where children go to sleep each night hearing gunfire and so what we’re proposing is that those children — remember Sandy Hook [Elementary School] we’re talking about six- and seven-year-olds — are supposed to go to school and look at the front of their class at their second-grade teacher and she’s going to be strapped with a gun,” Harris said.
On Monday, the Trump administration rolled out his full gun reform plan. It includes increasing the minimum purchasing age for guns, expanding background checks on internet sales and having school teachers undergo voluntary firearm training in partnership with the Department of Justice and local law enforcement.
In rebutting that proposal, Harris made it clear that she stands with the youth leaders of the gun reform movement that recently participated in the National School Walk Out.
“Young people, these leaders, are making it very clear it’s a false choice to suggest you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away," she said. "Right now, what we need is we need to have common sense gun safety laws in our country, I don’t know what we’re waiting for. We don’t need any more tragedies."