Larsen, Colleagues, Lead Effort to Prevent Mass Shootings in Schools
Washington, DC, March 20, 2017
Bipartisan School Safety Act of 2017 would renew federal program – unfunded since 2010 – to address school safety
U.S. schools could receive additional resources to prevent mass shootings under bipartisan legislation led by Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) and cosponsored by Reps. Mike Coffman (CO-06), Susan Brooks (IN-05) and Suzan DelBene (WA-01).
The School Safety Act of 2017 would renew the Secure Our Schools program, which provides resources to local, state and tribal governments to meet schools’ individual security needs. The program has not been funded by Congress since 2010.
“In the years since Congress neglected to renew this critical program, hundreds of school shootings have taken place across the United States,” said Rep. Larsen. “My heart still hurts when I think about the parents who received the worst imaginable news in 2014 following the shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck high school. If this bill can prevent even one family from going through that experience, then Congress has a responsibility to take action. And for me, the alternative – doing nothing – is simply not an option.”
“School should be a place where kids and teachers feel safe, and the School Safety Act will help schools, in partnership with local law enforcement, put more effective security and response technologies in place,” said Rep. Brooks. “In talking with local school administrators and law enforcement officers in my district about how to improve school safety, a lack of resources to invest in life-saving technologies was a top concern I heard. That’s why I am proud to help introduce this legislation, which helps equip schools to keep our students and teachers safe.”
“Schools should be a safe place for students to learn and achieve their full potential,” said Rep. Coffman. “Keeping students and teachers safe is not only the right thing to do, but also a worthwhile use of our resources. The School Safety Act will protect Colorado’s educational institutions, provide emergency response training for teachers, and best equip our schools to deal with threats of the 21st century. I am a proud sponsor of this legislation.”
“I’m strongly committed to ensuring the safety and security of our students. While there is no one law that will prevent every single instance of senseless violence, like the tragic shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in 2014, we can and must do more. The School Safety and Security Act is an important first step and I’m honored to help introduce it with Congressman Larsen. This bipartisan legislation will provide critical resources to keep our schools safer,” said Rep. DelBene.
Specifically, the legislation would reauthorize $30 million in federal resources to improve security measures in schools, training for staff and students as well as tools like metal detectors and locks. In addition, the legislation would improve the program by allowing funding to cover emergency communications systems with local law enforcement.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, between 2013-2015 there were at least 160 U.S. school shootings resulting in 59 deaths – including five students who were killed at a shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, WA, in 2014.
The Secure Our Schools program takes a comprehensive approach to preventing violence in schools based on schools’ unique needs. Funds awarded through the program’s grants can pay for physical deterrents, security assessments, security training and coordination with local law enforcement.
Last year, Larsen and Brooks launched the School Safety Caucus to focus on best practices for school safety and investments to help schools meet their unique safety needs.