Skip to Content

NEA President: Senate fails to take first crucial step to protect children from gun violence

Columbine High School survivor pleads with Senate to act now to prevent another tragedy

WASHINGTON - April 17, 2013 -

 The U.S. Senate tonight failed to pass common sense background checks for gun purchases. The vote was 54 – 46, but needed 60 votes to pass.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel issued the following statement:

“The U.S. Senate caved to special gun lobby interests, ignored the cries for help from Sandy Hook families and other victims of violence, and failed to protect children from gun violence. The commonsense bipartisan legislation requiring a simple background check for commercial gun purchases would have been a crucial first step toward reducing the epidemic of gun violence in America. Comprehensive background checks are overwhelmingly supported by the public, as well as by 90 percent of educators.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our students. Educators like Katie Lyles, a Columbine High School survivor, will not be deterred by today’s outcome. Educators will keep fighting for simple, common sense steps to help prevent future tragedies.

“Spurred by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 young children and several educators in December, Lyles is telling her story for the first time since that tragic day. Her message is simple: the time for common sense gun safety legislation is now.

“We applaud the 54 senators, Democrats and Republicans alike, who stood up today to support this important first step on background checks.

“We urge Congress to listen to Katie, and her colleagues, and go back to the drawing board as soon as possible to continue to look for ways to stand up against gun violence and pass commonsense measures to help prevent more tragedies like the ones in Columbine and Sandy Hook. This is not a partisan issue—it’s a safety issue and the time is now.”

Follow @NEAMedia on Twitter


The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Miguel A. Gonzalez, (202) 822-7823,


Keeping Our Schools Safe