Educators demand action: Teachers rally against gun violence


Maya Joshi

On the 21st of February, exactly one week after the February 14th shooting in a Parkland, Florida school claimed 17 lives and changed many more forever, teachers and educators from around Kentucky gathered in the cold and rain to protest three pieces of Kentucky legislature being considered that would make guns more prevalent than ever.

Kentucky House Bill 210 (HB210) prohibits Kentucky’s publicly funded colleges and universities from restricting anyone’s ability to carry a gun on campus if that person has a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon. Kentucky House Bill 36 (HB36) lets people without a concealed carry permit carry a concealed deadly weapon in places that allow concealed carry. Kentucky Senate Bill 103 (SB103) allows public school boards and private schools to appoint school marshals who would be allowed to store and, if necessary, use a gun on campus to protect themselves and others.

The rally was organized by Assumption High School teachers Sally Craven, Angela Lincoln, Paula Spugnardi and Katie Hughbanks. The educators were devastated by the news of the massacre, but once the bills were proposed in their home state, they knew they had to do something.

“When I heard about the bills I was frustrated beyond belief that we can’t do any better than that at this point,” Lincoln said.

The teachers believe that law-makers just aren’t listening.

Spugnardi called the bills part of a “terrible disconnect between what teachers and educators want, and we know that we need, and what legislators think that we need. This just kind of feeds into the fear mentality. Of course they want to protect people, we just see protecting people differently.”

When the schism is so wide between what the people want, and what their representatives support, other factors may be in play.

“I think that too many of our politicians have taken too much money from the NRA. Many, not all, many of our legislators have forgotten to serve the people, and they’re serving special interest groups,” Spugnardi continued.

Dylan Smither, a JCPS substitute teacher and local musician going by the name Midwest Fresh had a message to share with proponents of SB103. 

“To anyone who thinks that teachers need guns I got one thing to say, if they get an AR give me an AK, and they will put their phones away, but that’s not the way that school should play,” Smither said in a rap.

Smither attended the rally in support of his mother, who was one of the organizers, as well as in his own right.

“I’m here as a teacher, as a child of two teachers, and as an alumni of Jefferson County Public Schools,” said Smither.

Among those invited to speak to the small crowd was Dr. Judith Danovitch, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Undergraduate Studies at University of Louisville and a graduate of Harvard, Yale and Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Kayla Colwick, Victoria Carrier and Ruth Hertrick also represented UofL at the rally. Colwick and Carrier attended as future educators, both majoring in Education.

“As a future educator and as a human being this is a subject that is really important to me, and I think it needs to be talked about and action needs to be taken,” Colwick said.

Cathy Nekus attended the rally as a part of the Kentucky branch of Moms Demand Action, a nationwide bipartisan grassroots movement advocating for common-sense gun legislative reform and as a former Manual parent.

“We wanted to come and show support for them. I really hope that kids don’t have to do lockdown drills anymore, ever,” Nekus said, unaware that Manual was scheduled to have a lockdown drill the next day.