National and local leaders react to student walkout
Local and national leaders have offered support for students participating in Wednesday's national walkout.
US Representative Jackie Walorski, R-District 2
“Young Hoosiers are the future of our country, and I applaud their civic engagement on important issues. Schools should be safe places where students can learn, grow, and prepare for bright futures. Giving students, teachers, and law enforcement the tools to identify warning signs, improve school security, and stop violence before it occurs is a critical step toward keeping young Americans safe. That’s why I will vote for the STOP School Violence Act, which will help make our schools safer.”
Background on the STOP School Violence Act that the House will consider tomorrow:
The Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act (H.R. 4909) creates a grant program to improve school safety and security. It would authorize $50 million annually to train students, school personnel, and law enforcement to identify warning signs and intervene early to prevent violence. The funding would also support school security improvements, threat assessment and crisis intervention efforts, and coordination between schools and local law enforcement.
- Student Violence Prevention Training: The bill would support violence prevention training to help local law enforcement, school personnel, and students identify and respond to warning signs.
- Technology to Improve School Security: The bill provides funding for school security improvements, including anonymous reporting systems, metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other technology and equipment.
- School Threat Assessment and Crisis Intervention Teams: The bill would fund school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams to respond to threats before they materialize
- More Coordination with Law Enforcement: The bill provides resources to improve law enforcement coordination efforts, particularly officers who already staff schools.
US Representative Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph
“We hear these students loud and clear. Guns must be kept out of the hands of dangerous, unstable individuals and our law enforcement needs all the tools in the toolbox which is why I have always supported robust background checks. As I have been meeting directly with our local law enforcement officials, parents, teachers, students, gun owners, and other folks to discuss common-sense, bipartisan solutions it’s clear nothing should be off the table. Our kids must be safe from violence at school.”
Upton was recently named a Co-Chair of the bipartisan Working Group on Response to Parkland Shooting. The working group exists as part of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, of which they are both members.
The U.S. House of Representatives are expected to vote Wednesday on two pieces of bipartisan legislation that will help keep students safe at school.
- H.R. 4909, the STOP School Violence Act, would provide communities improved tools and investments in early intervention and prevention programs to stop school violence before it happens. The Department of Justice would be authorized to make grants to states for the purpose of training students, school personnel, and law enforcement to identify signs of violence that could prevent individuals from hurting themselves of others. The legislation also permits the development and operation of anonymous reporting systems, and formation of school threat assessment and intervention teams to help schools find and assess threats before tragedy strikes. H.R. 4909 is supported by groups such as the Sandy Hook Promise.
- H.R. 4811, the Securing our Schools Act, would authorize the Department of Justice to offer grants to local school districts for buying and installing SOS, or panic buttons, in classrooms. This notification technology will act as both a deterrent from, and front-line response to, situations that place children and educators in harm’s way. H.R. 4811 is supported by groups such as the National Sheriffs Association and the National Education Association.
Upton traditionally meets with teachers and students once a week. So far this year he’s visited students and teachers in St. Joseph, Niles, Portage, Hartford, and Kalamazoo.
US Senator Todd Young, R-Ind.
“We must ensure our schools have the resources needed to keep students safe and prevent another horrible tragedy like Parkland from occurring. By encouraging school safety infrastructure upgrades, more school counselors and mental health professionals, and improved communication, these bills can help keep our kids safe,” -Senator Todd Young.
Senator Young helped introduce two school safety bills last week, the School Safety & Mental Health Services Improvement Act and the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018.
US Senator Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
“It’s encouraging to see so many students making their voices heard in our communities. I believe that we need to take action to reduce gun violence and make sure our schools are safe places to learn. Every student and teacher has the right to go to school every day in a safe environment—and parents and loved ones should be able to trust that they will come home safe at the end of each school day. I will continue to work in a bipartisan way to address these issues.” – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly
- Donnelly recently announced his formal support for bipartisan legislation, the Fix NICS Act, which would improve the nation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for firearm purchases. Currently, many federal agencies and state governments often fail to provide NICs with relevant information on dangerous individuals or violent criminals, leaving the system open to significant error.
- Donnelly voted in favor of a bipartisan proposal from Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) in 2013, and again in December 2015, that would strengthen the background check system to help keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and people with dangerous mental illness.
- In 2016, Donnelly supported measures that would strengthen the background check system and keep individuals on a terrorist watch list from being able to purchase a firearm.
- Donnelly will review any measure that comes before the Senate.