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Congress Takes ‘Incremental’ Step on School Safety

Congress Takes ‘Incremental’ Step on School Safety

CT News Junkie, March 16, 2018

by Peter Urban

As thousands of high school students protested Congress’s lack of action on gun safety measures a month after the Parkland high school mass shooting, the House on Wednesday approved spending additional money for training to recognize mental health issues, threat reporting systems, and security equipment.

Nicole Hockley, founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, applauded House passage this week of the “STOP School Violence Act” saying the bill “doesn’t solve everything, but is an important step in preventing all forms of violence — from bullying to suicide and shootings — in our schools.”

Sandy Hook Promise has been advocating for schools to get more resources so that teachers can be trained on how to respond to mental health crises and to implement “Say Something” gun-violence prevention programs and training for schools and youth service organizations.

Sandy Hook District back to top

Representative Elizabeth Esty, whose district includes Newtown, was a co-sponsor of the legislation and spoke in favor of passage on the House floor and credited Hockley and Mark Barden of Newtown — both of whom lost a child at Sandy Hook Elementary School to a mass shooter five years ago — with turning their grief into action.

“They and other parents took their grief and formed a group called the Sandy Hook Promise. That group has been working tirelessly for over 5 years now, and the bill we address here today is largely a testament to the hard work that they have put in working with mental health professionals, school officials, and law enforcement to come up with real steps that will help save lives,” she said.

Esty said the bill should be just the first step in many that Congress takes to address “the scourge of gun violence.” Still to do, she said, is comprehensive background checks for all gun purchases and a ban on so-called bump stocks.

Esty joined Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy outside the Capitol earlier that day to show support for thousands of students who demonstrated in favor of action on gun safety legislation.

All three praised high school students for taking up the issue and petitioning their elected officials to act.

“There is no great social change movement in this country that has not been led by the youth of America. It is not going to be easy. There are going to be defeats before you reach final victory,” Murphy said. “I know in the end, that we will beat the NRA, that we will kick out members of Congress who don’t listen to you, and we will deliver change in the end.”