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'Closed-minded thinking is what's going to get more people killed' | SC teachers speak out after Uvalde mass shooting

"I did not go to school to learn how to defend my classroom from an active shooter," said South Carolina educator Sherry East.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Teachers across the country are reeling in the aftermath of another school shooting. Frustration is growing among teachers who say politicians are not working together toward real solutions.

“You just immediately take a minute and cry," said Sherry East, who is a teacher and the president of the South Carolina Education Association. "I just say a prayer for those families that are out there dealing with that.”

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East said teachers are struggling and facing the reality they could become the last defensive wall between their students and a shooter. But East doesn't believe arming teachers is the answer.

“I went to school to train students on how to learn about science and how to have a lab," said East. "I did not go to school to learn how to defend my classroom from an active shooter.”

The shooting has renewed debate on why more isn’t being done to not put teachers in that position. High school English teacher Patrick Martin started the Safe Schools Project after the 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. He said you don’t have to be for or against firearms to work together towards a reasonable solution.

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“The sad thing is that I feel like in some ways, elected officials have chosen to focus on buzzwords to garner easy and cheap votes based on emotion, rather than listening to prudent suggestions from their constituents," he said. "And that's really a hard thing after this to see -- people jump on these bandwagons to try to earn votes in the wake of senseless gun violence.”

East also believes politicians need to work together to find solutions, such as adding more training when people purchase guns and raising age limits. 

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“Raising the age on buying this type of weapon is not saying you can't own this type of weapon," said East. "We're not taking away your 2nd Amendment rights, but I'm saying that closed-minded thinking is what's going to get more people killed.”

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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