Senator Kahn’s Comments Delivered to March for Our Lives Rally March 24, 2018


Thank you organizers of Keene’s March for Our Lives rally.  We join 800 other rallies against gun violence and in favor of government taking actions to limit gun violence

For the past 3 weeks I’ve been in the thick of the debate over granting Local School Board’s the ability to control firearm possession in a Safe School Zone.  It took time for those in favor of the change to get organized and initially nearly all the letters were against any prohibitions on gun possession.  Some gun rights advocates acknowledged doing nothing was not an option either, but their gesture was hollow.  When asked what do you think we can do, there was no there, there, no replies.  Then those who favor safe school zones, which include rule making over gun possession, began flooding the mail boxes pleading the case for local control. After all, isn’t that what NH government is based upon, local control. 

There are 4 high schools in my state senate district, every school board is holding discussions about violence in schools.  The closest Republicans could come to accepting local control is that every NH school is required to have a safety plan.  That’s true.  But otherwise the arguments stuck on guns make us safer, school shooting have occurred where safe school zones were in place, where signs are posted.  If you were going to shoot people wouldn’t you pick a place where it is posted “this is a gun free zone.”  That the reason NH schools are safe is because we allow guns in schools.  

Whoa.  Let’s bust some myths.  School shooting do happen in NH; ask the students who were in the Walpole elementary school cafeteria 7 years ago and witnessed a classmate bring a gun into the cafeteria, who shot himself in the head in an attempted suicide.  Ask the students who were sheltered in place after hearing a gun-shot ring out through their hallways.  Of the terror they felt, of the trauma they relive during every school safety drill, after every reported school shooting.  The trauma is real. And their cry for action is real. 

Because we’re missing the point in the debate over school safety.  It isn’t about gun possession.  The debate is about control over the learning environment to help students keep their focus on learning and a teacher’s focus on teaching.  And when you feel unsafe you can’t focus in that environment.  You, our students and teachers and parents, become victims and isn’t that what the NH Senate passed the other day, Marsey’s Law, to protect victims of crime.  Shouldn’t we be protecting students and teachers from relapsing trauma resulting from school violence.

We rely on local control in all other ways.  The state doesn’t set learning standards, by course, by grade level, or for graduation, that’s a matter of local control.  The state doesn’t mandate what test is given to assess students, that’s a matter of local control.  The state doesn’t say how much should be spent on a student’s education, that’s a matter of local control.  We even say schools must have a safety plan and that’s a matter of local control.  But school boards can’t establish rules about firearm possession in a safe school zone.  That’s what the NH Senate said this week. 

What might local control mean.  Certainly, school resource officers and police officers that keep our community safe would be allowed to carry arms in schools.  Maybe some school boards would allow school personnel certified to carry arms to possess them as well.  Would we face up to the fact that school children face trauma every day-- in witnessing violence, in home neglect, in food and income insecurity, in being the outsider, in fear of attacks.  Shouldn’t we provide resources in our schools to treat mental instability and case manage for neglect and isolation.   But the NH Senate with guidance from the Governor cut off that debate.

What will we do instead?  Follow the plan of our federal government, and form a commission, study the problems.  What did the student from Margory Stoneman Douglas HS, Emma Gonzalez, say to Marco Rubio?  We Call BS.  Well Mr. Governor, Mr. President, We Call BS. 

Other states are moving forward with what works: 

·      universal background checks for gun sellers, employees and buyers

·      Red Flag tests to take guns away from people and homes where potential violence can occur

·      Raising the minimum age for purchase and ownership of firearms to 21

·      Limiting possession of semi-automatic assault type weapons. 

Nobody is asking a government official to form a study commission.  It’s a form of delay, to which we say, we call BS.

It’s a matter of life and death.  38,658 people died from guns this past year—including suicides and violent crimes. That’s 105 people a day. 

As John Kennedy said in his inauguration address, time has come to pass the torch to a new generation:  The post 9-11 generation is demanding we control gun violence.  You should demand change.  Get registered to vote because it may be the most effective way to achieve change--to tell those that oppose legislation that would limit gun violence that my action is a reaction to your inaction.