Local Loss Inspiring Gun Talks in SUNY Cortland

By Justin Andrews
By Matt Hicks

February 6, 2013 Updated Feb 7, 2013 at 1:46 AM EDT

Cortland, NY (WBNG Binghamton) It's been nearly two months since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary took 26 lives, including that of school psychologist Mary Joy Greene Sherlach, a SUNY Cortland alumnus.

Tuesday, Sherlach was remembered in a different way on the SUNY Cortland Campus, through a discussion on the place of guns in the classroom.

Speaker Robert Spitzer, nationally renowned gun law expert and chairman of the school's political science department, said while there is no way to guarantee that every student will be safe, schools have done much over the past decade to make their schools more secure.

"With the recent headlines, we think of public schools as being virtual shooting galleries and they're really not. Public schools, statistically, are safer for school children than streets are or society at large," said Spitzer.

The event featured other educators as well, like SUNY Cortland Assistant Professor of Education Michelle Kelly, who said incidents like the shooting in Newtown, Conn., show how heroic teachers can be, whether it's by teaching students how to read or protecting them from a shooter.

"Teachers carry out a hero's work every single day by the work they do, particularly in urban schools, in the Syracuse City School District, for instance, or in the Binghamton City Schools, in our rural schools where there's also high poverty," said Kelly.

SUNY Cortland is currently planning a second "teach-in" event, which will focus on mental health issues and school safety.