School Shooting Safety & Preparedness Bill Gains Support From National Organizations
The House Education and Labor Committee is scheduled to debate and vote on HR 4301 on Sept. 18, 2019, the School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act.
The legislation introduced last week by Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02), Lucy McBath (Georgia-06), and Jahana Hayes (Conn.-05) would create a federal definition for “school shooting” and instructs the Departments of Education, in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, to annually report uniform data on indicators of school crime as it pertains to school shootings.
The bill has quickly gained 20 cosponsors and garnered the support of several gun violence prevention and education organizations.
In a letter urging members of the House Education and Labor Committee to vote in favor of the bill, Marc Egan, the director of Government Relations at the National Education Association wrote, “NEA members support the School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act because it takes a number of steps to track and categorize these tragic incidents, yielding valuable information that will help us safeguard school communities. Gun violence destabilizes us all; no one—least of all children—should have to endure it. We must do all we can to stop the next school shooting from happening. The School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act will help us learn more about these horrific incidents so that we can prevent them.”
“Congress must take a comprehensive and holistic approach to ending gun violence. One critical step to combating this epidemic is to have the data and research today that can drive the meaningful solutions of tomorrow. As you well know, there is currently no legal definition of ‘school shooting’ recognized by the federal government. HR 4301would create such a definition and codify it into federal law,” notes Sandy Hook Promise in its letter of support, adding, “Sandy Hook Promise is proud to support HR 4301, and we urge its swift passage.”
“Following the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Board of Directors of the Council of the Great City Schools unanimously passed a resolution committing our 76 member school districts to supporting a sweeping series of federal actions to curb the availability of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition; increase federal assistance for school counselors, social workers, and intervention programs; provide aid for building security alterations; support coordination with other local agencies; promote firearm safety programs; AND collect data to track, monitor, understand, and prevent gun violence in America. HR 4301 takes a welcomed step forward in collecting and analyzing national data on all-too-frequent school shootings.” wrote the Council of Great City Schools in its statement of support.
In addition to the National Education Association, the Council of Great City Schools, and Sandy Hook Promise, the following groups also expressed their support for H.R. 4301, the School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act:
American Federation of Teachers
National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
American School Counselor Association
School Social Work Association
Newtown Action Alliance
Everytown for Gun Safety/Moms Demand Action
The bill is currently cosponsored by Reps. Davis (Ill.-07), Desaulnier (Calif.-11), Garcia (Texas-29), Green (Texas-09), Jayapal (Wash.-07), Krishnamoorthi (Ill.-08), Lee (Nevada-03), Levin (Mich.-09), Morelle (New York-25), Norton (DC-AtLarge), Omar (Minn.-05), Sablan (MP-AtLarge), Schrader (Ore.-05), Sewell (Ala.-07), Suozzi (New York-03), Takano (Calif.-41), Trahan (Mass.-03), Underwood (Ill.-14), and Wilson (Fla.-24)
H.R. 4301 would:
- School Shooting Defined: Create a federal definition for “school shooting,” establishing one standard definition in order to avoid subjective reporting of the circumstances surrounding these incidents.
- School Crime and Safety Report: Require the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, to publish annual reports on indicators of school crime.
The reports would cover:
- Statistics on School Shooting: tracks the number of shootings, the number of people killed, demographics of shooters and victims, the motivation of shooters, types of firearms and ammunition used, how the firearm was acquired, and more.
- Safety and Prevention: tracks information on the existence or absence of safety and prevention measures at the time of the shooting, such as building designs, communication and response plans, and more.
Rep. Gabbard has been a strong advocate for common sense gun violence prevention policy—including state grant funds for evidence-based school safety programs. She has supported bipartisan legislation to establish universal background checks, banning bump stocks and assault weapons as well as measures to prevent the 3D printing of guns.
These include the Gun Show Loophole Closing Act, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Act, the Keeping Guns from High Risk Individuals Act, the Assault Weapons Ban, the Support Assault Firearms Elimination and Reduction for our Streets Act, the Domestic Violence Loophole Closure Act, the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act and more.