Maryland private school leaders take out full-page ad calling for 'common sense' gun laws

More than 130 private schools in the Maryland region took out a full-page ad, to be published Wednesday in The Baltimore Sun, calling on lawmakers to enact stronger gun laws aimed at reducing violence.

The public display of unity comes on the one-month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 students and educators dead. Thousands of Maryland students will also be participating in a mass show of unity Wednesday: Many are expected to take part in school walkouts, in which they will leave class at 10 a.m. to honor the victims.

“Students - children - who have experienced this trauma and loss first-hand are showing the way. As adults and as educators, it is our time to lead,” the ad reads. “With those student activists and with their grieving families, we too say, ‘Never Again!’”

The advertisement urges lawmakers to create a “robust system of registration and background checks,” especially for the purchase or ownership of the types of deadly weapons used in recent mass shootings.

“We need stronger mental health services and more effective communication among agencies responsible for the well-being of children, adults, and families,” the ad states. “What we do not need is to arm our teachers with guns, which is dangerous and antithetical to our profession as educators.”

Peter Baily, director of the Association of Independent Maryland & DC Schools, said many of his organization’s member schools were looking for a “very public way to send a message.” The same ad will also run in Sunday’s Washington Post.

The action grew “out of our enormous concern for the safety of children and our enormous frustration with the inability and incapacity of our political leaders to enact common sense laws that would reduce gun violence in this country,” he said.

Each of the 133 schools that signed onto the letter — including Loyola Blakefield, Roland Park Country School, Friends School of Baltimore and Garrison Forest School — contributed roughly $300 to run the advertisement in both newspapers.

Bill Heiser, president of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, said the money will be coming out of his own pocket.

“I don’t think there could be money better spent in terms of standing up for our students and what we believe in,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to speak out and really be leaders in this movement against gun violence.”

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