April 26, 2018 -- “We are taking a bold and significant step today to make school safety a top priority of the House of Delegates” Speaker of the House Kirk Cox said in his announcement of a House Select Committee on School Safety released this March. The committee, which meets for the first time today in Richmond, “will not discuss issues related to guns” according to Cox.
Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), Co-Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus said “No other issue has had a more traumatic effect on our nation's institutions of learning. Republican House leadership claims this committee is a ‘bold and significant’ step. The facts show it is anything but.”
“Bulletproof backpacks are no match for an AR-15,” added Delegate Kathleen Murphy (D-McLean), Co-Chair of the Caucus. “If we don’t look at the whole problem, we won’t find legitimate solutions.”
According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, Delegate Danny Marshall, the Committee Vice Chair, said the committee will look into “metal detectors”, “bullet proof shelters”, and “hallway smoke cannons” designed to disorient shooters.
“These ideas all have one common theme: they circle the issue of gun violence without discussing guns” said Ebbin.
During the 2018 Virginia legislative session, House and Senate Republicans killed 69 bills related to firearms and gun violence prevention. These bills included bans on bump stocks and assault-style weapons as well as the implementation of universal background checks on all firearm purchases.
“All we are looking for is an honest discussion of public safety in our schools,” said Murphy.
“The Committee’s refusal to specifically address guns ignores the everyday reality for students in America. It flies in the face of the accumulation of evidence which clearly shows school safety is intrinsically tied to the prevalence of assault-style weapons and youth access to firearms,” added Ebbin.
Facts on Youth Exposure to Gun Violence and School Shootings
Since the Columbine Massacre in 1999, 26,000 children and teenagers in the U.S. have been killed by guns
Since Columbine 187,000 primary and secondary school students have experienced gun violence on campus in the United States
On average 1,297 children in America die from gun-related injuries a year
Firearms are the third-leading cause of death for Americans younger than 18
Exposure to gun violence has been linked to a variety of psychological challenges like anger and dissociation, anxiety and depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The ramifications of gun violence affects youth in the classroom, making it difficult for them to concentrate in class and damaging their academic performance and educational or career aspirations)
There have been at least 27 mass shootings at primary and secondary schools in the United States since 1989
Since 2013, there have been over 300 shootings at schools and universities in the United States