For the second time in recent weeks, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today attended an event aimed at promoting gun control measures in the wake of the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December.
Duncan, who had a long record on gun control issues before joining the Obama administration, stood at a news conference on Capitol Hill with a group of mayors and college presidents—all of whom are pushing, in some capacity, for gun control measures.
Growing up in Chicago, where his mother ran an after-school tutoring program for disadvantaged children, Duncan said he "lost far too many friends to gun violence." Duncan also attended a gun control event in Washington a little over a week ago.
At Monday's event, he told the group that he had spoken to President Barack Obama "as recently as last night" about the issue.
The event featured members of a group calling itself College Presidents for Gun Safety. The group has put together a petition signed by 350 college presidents calling on Congress to oppose legislation that would expand the use of guns on campuses in classrooms (the "arming teachers" idea floated by the National Rifle Association); ending the so-called "gun show loophole," which allows purchase OF a gun without a criminal background check; reinstating a ban on military style assault weapons; and requiring safety standards for guns, such as safety locks.
The group would also like to see mental health addressed in the current discussion about how to reduce gun violence, although the recommendations aren't specific on this front. The ideas generally dovetail with Obama's recommendations on gun control.
The college presidents were joined by representatives from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which was founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. The mayors are also seeking to ban assault weapons, beef up background checks, and make gun trafficking a federal crime. Also on hand? The United States Students Association (USSA) International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA).
Tiffany Loftin, the president of the USSA, which advocates for college students, called on Congress to pair gun control measures with resources for other programs benefitting youth, such as TRIO, a federal college access program.