Teachers took to social media to tell lawmakers they want to be armed with books, smaller classrooms and crayons — not guns.
Educators from across the country, including Texas, used the #ArmMeWith hashtag to drive home their message. The movement is gaining momentum as President Donald Trump pushes arming teachers with guns as a way to prevent school shootings.
On Friday, more than a week after the massacre at Florida's Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead, Trump reiterated his plan, telling a crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference that if a teacher at the school had been armed, “the teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened.”
Nikolas Cruz, 19, faces 17 counts of premeditated murder in the shootings.
Steven Poole, executive director of the United Educators Association, said he is not surprised that teachers are pushing back.
"Arming teachers is a bad idea," said Poole, whose organization represents 24,000 public school employees in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. "They are there to educate our children. We need a better way to secure our schools."
Poole said teachers work to build warm, inviting and safe learning environments and carrying guns runs counter to those efforts.
"Teachers are creative and they are hitting their frustration point," Poole said. "They are having to solve all the problems of the world."
Poole's comments are in line with those of Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, which has 3 million members nationwide.
“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence," Garcia said in a news release. "Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms."
The #ArmMeWith teacher movement comes as more Texas educators are becoming politically active. Vanessa Adia, who is running unopposed in the Democratic Primary for the Congressional District 12 seat, posted as part of the movement.
Adia, a science teacher in the Fort Worth school district, said she's against arming teachers to address the possibility of a school shooting. She said teachers have been involved in " the fight to pass common-sense gun reforms to protect our children and communities since Columbine almost 20 years ago."
Adia is running against U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, in the November general election. Granger, who was elected to her 11th term in 2016, is a former journalism and English teacher.
Granger did not respond to a request for comment.
Adia said teachers in Fort Worth and across the nation are inspired by the #NeverAgain movement started by the children of Stoneman Douglas. She said the #ArmMeWith movement is another way to support students.
She said the mass shooting touches home for Fort Worth teachers.
"Fort Worth knows all too well the horrors of gun violence," she told the Star-Telegram. "In the last week, I have spoken with fellow teachers who taught students affected by the Wedgwood Baptist shootings. We know the very real toll that mass shootings take on our children and our community. "
Cheryl Surber, a Fort Worth business developer who describes herself as a lifelong conservative, is a GOP candidate for District 11 on the State Board of Education who has also stepped into the national debate on guns in classrooms.
“I don’t think teachers should lose their first-amendment or second-amendment or any Constitutional rights when they become a teacher,” Surber said. She has posted a political cartoon on Facebook depicting an armed person at a fork in the road with two signs — one indicating a gun-free zone and one indicated an armed staff.
Surber said the gun-free zone signs should be taken down because shooters go to places that have them such as schools or churches. She believes armed personnel can make schools safer.
“As the NRA says, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Surber said.
The District 11 candidate has had some of her social media postings singled out in news stories. She recently posted items that questioned whether anti-gun activist and Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg is a "crisis actor." He has dispelled such comments in news reports.
Surber said she often posts items on both her Facebook campaign and personal pages to start conversations on issues.
"There are times that I have posted things that I will or will not agree with to get feedback,” she said.
Surber said she doesn't trust the mainstream news media.
“Anything on the news media, I question pretty much everything that is put on the news media anymore,” Surber said.
This article includes information from The Associated Press.