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ICYMI: Seacoast Online: Principal: I give Gov. Sununu an 'F' on student safety

Concord, N.H. - In Somersworth High School Principal John Shea's letter to Seacoast Online, he gave Governor Sununu an "F" on student safety. Sununu has failed to act to implement common sense gun control in the wake of Parkland and Santa Fe, instead saying he was happy with New Hampshire's gun laws "as is" (some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country). In an interview with NHPR, Sununu defended AR-15s, supported the idea that students should be able to carry guns on campus, and opposed the idea of allowing individual public schools to ban guns if they so chose. Sununu also remained silent as New Hampshire Republicans in the legislature killed a ban on bump stocks. Sununu's inaction is in stark contrast to Republican governors across the country who have pushed for common sense gun reform in the wake of Parkland. NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement: "New Hampshire is not buying Governor Sununu's cheap attempt to paper over his NRA A-rating with meaningless school safety initiatives. The longer Sununu ignores the reality that lax gun laws are the real problem, the longer New Hampshire students will be unsafe in their own schools. Principals like John Shea think about school safety every day, and it's telling that Principal Shea would give Sununu an 'F' on school safety because of the governor's stubborn inaction. Sununu's NRA A-rating and corresponding paralysis on gun issues shows he is a typical politician who is bought and paid for by corporate special interests like the gun lobby. This needs to stop." ICYMI: Seacoast Online: Principal: I give Gov. Sununu an 'F' on student safety By Somersworth High School Principal John Shea Dear Governor Sununu, I’ve been a high school principal for about a dozen years. Starting in July, I’ll be the principal of Somersworth High School. Several years ago, as principal of Spaulding High School, I spent an afternoon going classroom to classroom, wearing a bulletproof vest, with two Rochester police officers, weapons drawn, not a drill, looking for an armed intruder and clearing out students and teachers from closets and under tables. And I’ve certainly had more difficult days. It’s not always fully recognized, but a principal’s most sacred responsibility is the safety of their students. Unfortunately, Governor, I would like you to know that you are not helping. I state this bluntly, not as a matter of hyperbole, but because I believe it is true. And, yes, I am hoping to get your attention. I am sad, and I am concerned. But mostly, in the wake of ten more deaths at a high school in Texas, I am angry. The epidemic of gun violence in this country is reaching a tipping point. School shootings are becoming common place. Kids are being killed at school routinely. More Americans have died this year in school shootings than serving in the military. Teenagers send fan mail to the young man who took 17 lives at Stoneman Douglas in February. This is utterly insane. I understand that the problem is bigger than just guns. We live in a country that glorifies all sorts of violence through film, television, video games, and social media - and desensitizes us to all of it. There are far too many individuals struggling with depression, isolation, irrelevance, and mental illness - who are often ignored, unsupported, and untreated. And, as an educator, I certainly know that our schools need to do better at engaging our students (all of our students) and helping them find relevance, purpose, and meaning in their lives. But, Governor, there is no getting around the guns themselves. They are everywhere. We have more guns, and more powerful guns, in the hands of more people - and thus accessible to more people - than any other country today or in all of human history. So, yes, let’s tackle every aspect of this problem. The guns included. The overwhelming majority of Americans (including a majority of gun owners) support common sense gun control. The position that more guns leads to a safer society is being proven false right before our eyes - and has been for years. And the position that the Second Amendment trumps everything else is nonsensical. Individual rights and liberties are routinely balanced against the rights and liberties of others and the greater good of a society. It’s the very soul of a functioning democracy. My understanding is that you are proud of your “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, Governor - an organization that routinely opposes common sense gun regulation and whose membership is just a bit more than 1 percent of all Americans. As a New Hampshire public school principal, on the matter of keeping our children safe at school, I would like to offer you a rating/grade of “F.” I understand that’s harsh, but, sir, I believe it is fair. Too many school leaders are keeping quiet about this - at least publicly - because it’s a “political issue.” This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue. Our kids are being killed. At school. (Among other places.) It is becoming routine. Poor kids, rich kids, in-between kids. City kids, suburban kids, rural kids. Black kids, Latino kids, white kids. We have to find a way to end the killing. The path we are on is horrifying. Let’s please not wait for a school massacre here in New Hampshire. It is only a matter of time, sir. We have to work together. Would you be willing to grant me 45 minutes, Governor? I’d listen to you for 15 minutes, you could listen to me for 15 minutes, and maybe we could spend 15 minutes figuring out where to go next? We are clearly coming at this from two very different places. It might be a good test of what is truly possible - at a time when civil discourse, trust, and compromise are crumbling all around us. We need your leadership, Governor Sununu. As a citizen of New Hampshire, as a high school principal, and as a father of three - I will do all I can to help.


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