Pasco County School Board member Alison Crumbley has made no secret of her view that schools need more resource officers, not teachers with guns.
On Tuesday, as state lawmakers debated measures aimed at improving school safety, Crumbley sent them a letter urging a "multi-faceted solution" that includes better background checks for gun buyers, improved behavior services for schools, even a study on the effects of social media and video games on the adolescent mind.
But do not arm the teachers, urged Crumbley, who has called herself a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
"Our teachers should have the expectation of being protected and safe just as our students," she wrote. "They should not have to worry about being trained to handle a firearm in a mass shooting situation. There are too many 'what if' scenarios to think about if our teachers are armed."
The lawmakers heard many of these positions during their daylong hearings. Positions had been fairly well settled long before the debate, though.
Still, Crumbley said as an elected official — whom lawmakers generally seem to show some deference to — she felt like she had to at least try. Here's her full letter:
As an elected school board member, it is my job to be sure our students are as safe as humanly possible. In response to the shooting in Parkland, I'd like to share my thoughts and desires regarding school safety as follows.
I feel strongly that the mass shooting situations that are now occurring frequently are caused by a number of reasons. The problem must therefore have a multi-faceted solution or will only persist and worsen.
I am a supporter of the Second Amendment, however, I don't believe that it entitles all citizens to have military-style weapons. Technology has allowed some weaponry to be so deadly that a line has to be drawn to keep everyday citizens safe. These kinds of "assault" weapons should only be in the hands of the military or a very small number of specially trained and licensed people. NOT in the hands of an 18 year old who just walks into a gun store, or a 50 year old for that matter who suddenly wants to own an AR15. PLEASE USE COMMON SENSE. An 18 year old cannot buy a beer but can purchase a rapid-fire weapon with no training or mental health screening?????????
Tighten up the background checks and make them enforceable. Check an applicant's FaceBook posts. It seems each "shooter" has quite a social media history that could have prevented tragedy if only taken seriously.
And….speaking of FaceBook, SnapChat, etc…….please hold these companies accountable. For public safety reasons, they should be required to turn over information to authorities when their users post about committing violent acts and other heinous activities they are promoting.
Increase funding for our schools to add more SRO's (student resource officers). We need at least one armed SRO at each of our schools, and some campuses may require two or three based on the size and layout of the campus. Please help us with more capital dollars to tighten up the security on our soft targets. We need more fencing and surveillance cameras, among other things.
Increase funding for behavioral services. When I visit our campuses, whether elementary, middle or high school, this is always mentioned as one of the top needs at each school. Troubled and unstable individuals are identified for treatment faster by these trained professionals.
Please increase funding for and conduct research to find out the effects of social media and video game excesses on the young brain. You may know that the brain doesn't mature until age 25, and the dopamine receptors being created by overuse of both activities don't go away. They can transfer into other types of addictive behavior. These activities can create other irrational behaviors when overused by the young person. We need to know how much is too much and when is the appropriate age to begin their use. (Look up the work of a man named Simon Sinek who is a leading international advocate of limiting social media use).
And last but NOT least……..Do not arm our teachers. Do not put that responsibility on any of our teachers. We need to add more trained SRO's at our schools as I've already mentioned. TRAINED – the key word. Our teachers should have the expectation of being protected and safe just as our students. They should not have to worry about being trained to handle a firearm in a mass shooting situation. There are too many "what if" scenarios to think about if our teachers are armed, for example: What if the teacher's firearm falls into the hands of an unstable student with intent to harm everyone else? What if the authorities arrive and mistake an armed teacher for a gunman and kill him or her? What if innocent students or others are accidentally shot by "friendly fire" due to lack of experience in such incidents? The liabilities to the school system are endless. The possibility of more risk to students and teachers outweigh the benefits of this bad policy.
Thanks for your time. Please call me at any time if you would like to have a further discussion.
Alison Crumbley, School Board Member – District 4