HR4909 : Inept GOP House Embraces Weak School Gun Bill

John Kline, former Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, warning after the Sandy Hook massacre should ring in the ears of today’s Members — (as reported by MPR) :

“The sort of knee-jerk reaction to say, ‘We just have to pass a bill and make this stop’ doesn’t work,” Kline said. “It really takes a more thoughtful, comprehensive approach to try and do something about the violence in our society.”
Kline didn’t offer any specific ideas about what such an approach would involve.

Kline didn’t have a “knee-jerk reaction” … he calmly held a hearing over two months after the massacre ( February 27, 2013) entitled “Protecting Students and Teachers: A Discussion on School Safety” during which they heard from Bill Bond, who served as the principal at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky at the time of the 1997 school shooting that left three students dead, said the experience led him to his current role as Specialist for School Safety for the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

“I’m often asked if school shootings can be prevented with more security – cameras and metal detectors, and the like. While they may deter some intruders and prevent more weapons from entering our schools, that equipment can only go so far,” Mr. Bond said. “The most effective way to prevent acts of violence targeted at schools is by building trusting relationships with students and others in the community so that threats come to light and can be investigated as appropriate.”

Hmmm … so the suggestion of metal detectors was something that was pooh-poohed yet there are some in Congress, like Iowa’s First District Congressman Rod Blum, who is promoting that idea.
Fun Fact : H.R.5135 – Securing Children in Schools Act of 2018 is the bill that would do what Congressman Blum promotes … but he is not a sponsor.

Fast forward to today … and after many more school shootings, it appears that the House is ready to act.

There are a number of proposals on addressing the subject of guns, but the one that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is rushing for a vote is H.R. 4909 Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018 or the STOP School Violence Act of 2018.
The bill was introduced on January 30, 2018 … just a week after the January 23 shooting when two 15-year-old students were killed and more than 20 were injured at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky.
After having getting Congress to ignore the gun violence for years,Sandy Hook Promise was quick to endorse the bill … surely hoping that events like Parkland would never happen.

The STOP School Violence Act has had no hearings nor CBO analysis … but the House is posed to vote on it.

It’s a good start … but doesn’t address the complete problem.

Already there are some pro-gun groups that are actively encouraging no votes suggesting that

H.R. 4909 would eliminate funding for metal detectors and physical crime deterrent measures at schools. It would also mandate the creation of “anonymous” reporting systems that could be used for “swatting” gun owners, and additionally would allow for funding of gun control initiatives with taxpayer dollars

That interpretation aside, the real problem with the STOP Act is that is unfunded.

Yep, the House is doing exactly what John Kline warned against — ‘We just have to pass a bill and make this stop’ doesn’t work,” Kline said. “It really takes a more thoughtful, comprehensive approach ”

No doubt that when the bill passes, there will be many Republicans who will issuing press releases congratulating each other on what they have down … but without a funding mechanism it will be at risk of never being funded.

Let us remember that just two days before the Parkland massacre, the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2019 budget, which proposed cutting funding to crucial programs that help prevent gun violence and ensure school safety. The Trump budget would cut $25 million, or 36 percent, from the Education Department’s funding for school safety activities. The department has called for the complete elimination of the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) and Project Prevent Grant programs.

According to Representative John Rutherford (R FL-04), a prime sponsor of The STOP School Violence Act proposes $50 million annually for state and local schools to make evidence-based investments.
Hmmm … the cost of Trump’s military parade is estimated to be as high as $50 million — tough choice for Congress fund — a one day ego-trip for the President or allocate monies across America for school safety.
FunFact … because of the weight, the GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator precision-guided “bunker buster” bomb most likely won’t appear in the parade … which is too bad since the Trump Administration just awarded a contract valued at almost $21 million for an estimated eight of these Mother-Of-All-Bombs #MOAB.

How much will Minnesota get of The STOP School Violence Act proposed $50 million ?
Well, based on other federally authorized education programs, the government allocates less than 2% to Minnesota, which means less than $1 million. And if there are 2,072 public schools in Minnesota, $432 per school is roughly the allocation.

Of course that means that the funds are actually authorized (remember the government is currently running on a continuing resolution which expires on March 23rd.)

Something has to give … we need a #MathGuy to explain where the money will come from.

What if there was a proposal to actually guarantee disbursements … even the miniscule amount that the House is considering ?

Oh, wait … there is a bill that would do that … H R 5103 – Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act of 2018.
HR 5103 increases the excise tax that already exists for firearms and ammunition to pay for these programs.

Tell your Member of Congress that you want legislation like the STOP School Violence Act fully funded … and that it is just a start, schools need H.R. 4811 Securing Our Schools Act of 2018, H.R.5135 Securing Children in Schools Act of 2018, H.R. 5103 Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act of 2018, H.R. 2913 Mental Health in Schools Act of 2017, etc.

Actually what the House needs to do is heed John Kline’s advice “take a more thoughtful, comprehensive approach”
YES, we need legislative action — hearings where a number of proposals are considered … but not a weak unfunded bill that is being pushed to provide cover for congressional inaction.

Tell Congress to do its job … real legislation … not “feel-good” legislation that they will feature in campaign literature.

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