Congress Turns to School Safety After National School Walkout

“This is only the beginning,” one student declared during a national day of protest over gun violence in schools Wednesday, as the House prepared to consider a bill to fund training for students, school personnel and law enforcement to detect early signs of violence. Research shows 1,300 children die and nearly 5,800 are treated for gunshot wounds each year.

As students from more than 2,800 schools staged a National School Walkout Wednesday, urging lawmakers to do more about gun violence, the House prepared to take up a bill that would fund training for students, school personnel and law enforcement to detect early signs of violence.

It would also fund threat assessments and “anonymous reporting systems” such as phone apps, hotlines and websites for threats of school violence.

“This is only the beginning,” a Twitter account documenting the walkout proclaimed.

Thousands of students, emboldened by a growing protest movement over gun violence, stood up in their classrooms and walked out of their schools after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., The New York Times reports.

The 17-minute protests unfolding at hundreds of schools are intended to pressure Congress to approve gun control legislation and come 10 days before major protests in Washington and elsewhere.

“We want to make sure that we’re focusing on the issue of guns and gun reform,” said Madison Thomas, 20, a Georgetown University student helping manage the walkout. 

Some of the day’s most poignant demonstrations are happening at schools whose names are now synonymous with shootings.

In Colorado, students at Columbine High School will leave their classrooms and begin 30 seconds of silence: 17 for the dead in Parkland and 13 for the dead on their own campus in the shooting that seemed to signify the beginning of a generation of school attacks.

In Newtown, Conn., where 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, hundreds of students filed out of Newtown High School just moments before 10 a.m. and gathered in a parking lot near the football field. Some held posters. Organizers said they planned to recite the names of victims of gun violence.

Gun-control advocates hope for more from Congress than additional school security. They are calling for an expansion of background checks, a ban on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines, and other measures.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he is “anxious” to pass significant school safety legislation and the “Fix NICS” bill to improve reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It’s unclear whether senators will act before they start a two-week recess on March 26.  

Gun-control advocates hope for more from Congress than additional school security. They are calling for an expansion of background checks, a ban on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines, and other measures.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will analyze the government’s response to the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland, Fl., and discuss legislative proposals to improve school safety. Witnesses will include members of law enforcement agencies, a Parkland teacher and the father of a shooting victim.

The nationwide protests come at a time when young people in the U.S. are at disturbing risk of getting shot by other children, by their parents, by themselves, or by strangers, reports The Trace.

Government data and academic research on gun violence shows that no space is safe: children are struck by bullets at home, at the park, at school.

This year, at least 50 people have been shot or killed on a school or college campus, and the U.S. averaged one school shooting every week.

Drill down into the statistics on gun violence, and the damage becomes even more stark: Nineteen children a day are killed or hurt by guns that were too easy to access; more than 150,000 students study in schools where shots have rung out since Columbine; hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on medical treatment to save young lives.

The toll is a product of the nation’s prevalence of firearms (roughly 265 million guns in circulation) and pro-gun policies and gun-industry marketing that can lead to unsafe behaviors among adults who possess firearms while raising children.

On average, 1,300 children die and nearly 5,800 are treated for gunshot wounds each year, according to a 2017 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vast majority of gun-violence victims are boys, who comprise 82 percent of those killed by bullets. Homicide rates are disproportionately high among African Americans; suicide rates are disproportionately high among whites and American Indians.

This summary was prepared from combined news reports by TCR staffer Megan Hadley.

from https://thecrimereport.org