BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As the nation continues to fight against mass shootings, local community leaders gathered to voice their opinions on how to combat the violence.
There have been more than 200 mass shootings this year in the United States and local education leaders say more has to be done to stop gun violence in schools, after 10 people were killed and three injured in a racially motivated mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Ave. and 19 students and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, Texas. They are calling on lawmakers at the state and Federal level to change the gun laws because they said some students in Buffalo are afraid to go to class.
“This is a national emergency. The Federal government has to start earmarking funds for the schools so they can have officers, so they can have curriculum, they can have whatever they need,” Phil Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, said.
Community advocates and Buffalo education leaders say teachers play a pivotal role in shaping the next generation. Pastor Mark Blue says the education system has to be changed and it starts with passing the New York Amistad Bill.
“We need to have the Amistad Bill for education passed that is teaching about African American History,” Pastor Blue, president of the Buffalo NAACP Chapter, added.
The calls for education reform are not only about curriculum, but also about teaching students to respect one another for their differences.
“The importance of the educational system being proactive when it comes to not only reducing violence, but helping to educate our children about what fairness and love looks like,” Pastor James Giles, CEO of the Back to Basics Outreach Ministries, continued.
The Unity Rally comes on the heels of an incident at Frederick Law Olmsted School at Kensington this week, where a student brought a BB gun to schools. No one was hurt, but officials say action is needed on the Federal level to reform gun laws.
“When we have students that are afraid to go to school, somethings wrong. We have to hold these people accountable who haven’t done anything,” Rumore said. “They have to know that if they don’t do anything then we will remember in November and they won’t be there anymore.”
When speaking about adding security to buildings, Buffalo School Board member Larry Scott said more security is needed to keep kids safe, but it is important to maintain the softness inside of the building. He says he feels for parents, who are concerned about their child’s safety.
“We need to do it [add security to schools]. We need to do it, but it is not the ultimate answer. We need real action from Congress to address gun control,” Scott continued.
The event was a call for continued unity across Western New York. Some say the region and city could be an example of unity for all of America.
“Not one window has been broken [following the shooting at Tops]. Not one car has been flipped over. Buffalo is the epitome of what happens when tragedy comes to a community that is together,” Pastor Blue concluded.
Pastor Giles says it will take time and community events like the one Thursday night need to keep happening until the area can stabilize. Pastor Blue warns that stabilization could take many years or even decades as everyone continues to process the devastating shooting on Jefferson Ave.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.