Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson was a panelist at a House gun violence prevention hearing Wednesday, which took place only hours after President Obama announced his administration’s proposals to reduce gun violence.
During her testimony, Robinson recounted the horrific events of the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and mentioned teachers who threw themselves in harm’s way trying to protect their children.“None of these brave women were trained in combat, they were elementary school educators dedicated to protecting their young children,” she said. “They were no match for a troubled person with an AR 15.”
Robinson shared other details about the Newtown massacre in suggesting that perhaps tighter gun laws were necessary.
“He shot every one of those little six-year-olds three to 11 times,” she said. “That wasn’t necessary. Had he had a single shot…maybe Dawn and the people coming out could have stopped him.”
Addressing the issue of school safety, which is part of Obama’s broader effort to reduce gun violence, Robinson said teachers and parents in the community were asking for a number of security measures like police in schools, escape ladders from classrooms, and new locks on doors. “They’re creating things they need to feel safe because they’ve lost their personal sense of safety,” she said, adding that she didn’t know whether interest in these sort of measures would sustain long-term. She also questioned how much was too much, asking lawmakers: “How do I protect our children without creating fortresses?”
Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who introduced her constituent at the hearing, thought that was a valid point.
“It’s not simply a question of armed guards or bars on windows or bulletproof glass, but it’s ensuring that bad guys don’t have guns or people that are mentally unstable don’t have access to guns,” she said.
Rosa DeLauro, a co-chair on the committee that held the hearing, said that lawmakers needed to balance security needs with a productive learning environment.
“The voice of educators is critical to ensuring that we find and maintain this balance between safety and learning,” she said at the hearing.