Arne Duncan gave his final speech as education secretary on December 30, expressing his “frustration” that Congress has not passed more gun control and his hope that more such control will be secured to keep school children safe.
Duncan gave the speech in the basement of Father Michael Pfleger’s Saint Sabina Church on Chicago’s South Side.
According to The Washington Post, Duncan said the “greatest frustration” of his seven years as education secretary was the failure to secure more gun control. “Fighting off tears” as he looked ahead, he said, “We have to get guns out of the wrong people’s hands. We have to make sure our babies are safe.”
According to Education Week, in 2008, it was Duncan who responded to the Supreme Court’s pro-Second Amendment decision in District of Columbia v. Heller by saying, “I’m still trying to figure out who we are more in love with, our children or our guns.”
Duncan was nominated for education secretary with the hearty approval of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. And in the weeks after Adam Lanza used stolen guns to attack innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School, President Obama tasked Duncan “with crafting and selling a package of legislative and executive actions” intended to increase gun control in the U.S.
Speaking in Pfleger’s church on Thursday, Duncan said nothing about the most obvious remedy for school buildings that are increasingly viewed as soft targets; namely, bringing in armed resource officers or arming teachers and administrators so they can defend themselves and the students trusted to their care.
He did, however, criticize the way police “unnecessarily use deadly force and aren’t held accountable.” He suggested there is a trickle-down effect among officers whereby “other cops witness that behavior and lie about it, and they aren’t held accountable.” As a result, Duncan said, “The system loses its most precious resource, and that’s the public trust.”
Duncan said “police culture” needs a “seismic change.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.