Oakland teachers, students and advocates meet to address guns in schools

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- As Education Secretary Betsy DeVos again suggested arming teachers in schools using federal funds, local gun safety experts and educators in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday night advocated getting guns out of schools.

Last week a 14-year-old freshman fired a gun inside Balboa High School in San Francisco.

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Last month, a 16-year-old was shot and killed near a high school in Fairfield. The school was put on lockdown.

"It affects every American in every community in every town in every household," said high school senior Corinna Basch.

In Oakland, a panel of students, educators and gun violence prevention groups brainstormed what to do about it.

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"We have become desensitized to gun violence and have normalized shootings in our schools," Oakland Unified School District Chief of Equity Chris Chatmon told the audience.

"Our kids get put on lockdown because there's guns in the neighborhood. There is nothing good that comes from guns," said Rosina Keren, a counselor with the Berkeley Unified School District.

"Tonight got started when it was announced that the federal government was thinking about using federal education dollars to arm teachers with guns," said Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond.

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Passionately opposed to arming teachers, groups like Sandy Hook Promise offered alternatives, things like a phone app to anonymously submit tips about students at risk.

"This year alone in the state of California we've trained nearly 134,000 students through our programming," Sandy Hook Promise California Manager Illana Israel Samuels told the crowd. "We're growing like crazy here."

"We can't prevent fires, we can't prevent earthquakes. We can prevent school shootings," high school senior Basch added.

While the political discourse will continue, what everyone at the Oakland meeting agreed on is that it's the activism of young people that's changing the dialogue.
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