Newly-elected 5th Congressional District Representative Jahana Hayes returned to the place where she won National Teacher of the Year to rally support at home for her first piece of legislation in Congress — a resolution to ban federal funding for arming teachers in public schools.
“This is why I ran for Congress,” she said. “This was the issue I was willing to lose over.”
In front of a crowd that included current teachers, mothers against school violence and supportive politicians, Representative Hayes stood before a microphone to loudly proclaim:
“Schools should be safe spaces where students should learn,” she said. “And teachers should not carry handguns.”
She added it’s an issue that’s personal because Newtown is in her district. Newtown is where the shooting tragedy happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. The issue is also personal because of her time teaching in the classroom.
“I taught at this very school (Kennedy High School in Waterbury) for almost 15 years,” she said. “There’s about 1,300 kids at Kennedy High School. I would’ve never wanted the responsibility of securing a firearm in this building. I would’ve never wanted to say to a parent, ‘I’m not sure how that gun got out of my control and how your child got it into their hands.'”
Kevin Eagan, the president of the Waterbury Teachers Association, supports Rep. Hayes, who used to be a union member.
“We would want the guns in the hands of the professionals and those would be our resource officers and our police force, and out first responders — certainly not in the hands of our teachers,” Eagan said.
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But, Connecticut’s largest grass roots gun rights group is speaking out against Rep. Hayes and her push to ban federal funding. Here’s part of the statement from the Connecticut Citizens Defense League to News 8:
“Imagine a school teacher unable to protect his or her students with a mass murderer on the other side of the door to their classroom simply because an elected official someplace else thought they knew better.”
Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District Representative, Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat, told News 8 she is going to help lead the fight for Hayes’ resolution to pass the House of Representatives. Conecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal said he and Connecticut’s other senator, Democrat Chris Murphy, will try to help navigate it through the Senate. It’s a process that could take months, but Representative Jahana Hayes strongly feels it’s worth the fight.
“This is why I ran for Congress in the first place,” she said.