In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced this bill to create a federal definition for “school shooting” and instruct the Depts. of Education (ED), Justice (DOJ), and Health and Human Services (HHS) to annually report uniform data on indicators of school crime as it pertains to school shootings:
“Classrooms should be a safe place where parents can have peace of mind that their children will be safe and free to learn. This legislation will help us to gather objective data to better understand how we can come together to prevent the tragedy of mass shootings occurring in our schools.”
In a letter to her Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill, Rep. Gabbard writes that this bill would “lay the groundwork necessary to provide uniform data to the American people who grapple with the recurring horror of school shootings as well as policymakers who are responsible for addressing this problem.” She adds, “While thoughts and prayers may help cope with the grief suffered by victims’ families, data-driven policy solutions are needed to help prevent these crimes.”
Original cosponsor Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) adds:
"This bill begins to address a serious problem born of inaction. We can’t manage a problem that we have not measured. It is critical that we gather as much information as possible to prevent future school shootings. I commend Reps. Gabbard and McBath for their efforts in this regard."
The National Education Association (NEA) supports this bill. In a September 17, 2019 letter urging members of the House Education and Labor Committee to vote for this bill, NEA Director of Government Relations Marc Egan 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.”
This legislation passed the House Education and Labor Committee by a 27-22 vote with the support of 38 Democratic House cosponsors.
A number of gun control and education advocacy organizations, including Everytown for Gun Safety, the National Education Association (NEA), National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Sandy Hook Promise, and Council of Great City Schools support this legislation.
Of Note: In a December 2018 report, the Federal Commission on School Safety recommended increasing school safety through intergovernmental cooperation and school safety and crisis training. It did not address firearms.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Moussa81)