Debbie Wasserman Schultz Wants Education Department to Work With DOJ, HHS on School Shooting Reports

This week, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., showcased her “School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act” which “will allow the public and policy makers to gain a complete and accurate picture of gun violence in and around our school campuses, and provide actionable data to build effective strategies to prevent bloodshed at America’s places of learning.”

Wasserman Schultz filed the bill last week and highlighted it this week. U.S. Reps. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., and Lucy McBeth, D-Ga., are among the six co-sponsors.

Wasserman Schultz’s office offered some of the rationales behind the proposal.

“Crucially, this law would create a definition for ‘school shooting,’ which does not exist in federal law. Currently, policy makers rely on media reports of ‘school shootings,’ which can vary widely. With a standard definition, lawmakers would have a reliable way to measure incidents, trends, and the impact of reforms and strategies designed to save lives,” the congresswoman’s office noted. “This bill would also direct the Department of Education to consult with the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to produce comprehensive annual reports on school safety indicators, such as shooting and fatality statistics, shooter and victim demographics, shooter motivations, the types of firearms and ammunition acquired and used, and more. It would also track prevention efforts, such as building designs, and communication and response plans. Without that, a true understanding of the problem remains as elusive as the best solutions we need to finally end it.”

“We will never loosen the chokehold opponents of gun safety have on solving this public health crisis until we fully understand the carnage that firearms inflict on Americans, especially on our school campuses, “ said Wasserman Schultz. “The more we know about the dangers that guns pose to our classrooms, the more likely we are to prevent the next Marjorie Stoneman Douglas or Sandy Hook massacre. Protecting students and teachers, and understanding the real dangers they face from firearms, is yet one more political space where all sides can agree that we need to make swift, substantial progress. We just need the data to help identify trends and gaps, and then we can work toward solving it. This legislation would build a sturdy foundation to make schools safer.”

“Gun violence prevention is a top concern for me, and my constituents. Every day we continue to see these tragedies occur impacting the safety of our schools. In 2018 and 2019, there were 24 and 25 school shootings respectively.The School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act is a key prevention measure providing the framework to obtain the data needed to be pro-active,” said Hayes. “By analyzing the history of school shootings, we can identify shooting and fatality statistics; shooter and victim demographics, shooter motivations; the firearms and ammunition acquired and used; and maintain a database, so we can attempt to get to the core of why this phenomenon continues to occur.”

“School shootings and mass shootings have become far too common in our country,” said McBath. “There is not currently a federal definition for a ‘school shooting,’ yet far too many of our young people have witnessed one firsthand. We must understand the extent of this heartbreaking tragedy before we can find the solutions necessary to solve it, and I thank all those who continue to stand with us in the fight to end gun violence.”

Gun control supporters lined up behind the bill. Sandy Hook Promise, Giffords, Moms Demand Action and March For Our Lives are backing the proposal.

The book was sent to the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

KEVIN DERBY
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