Gun bill expands school safety spending beyond security

gun bill expands school safety spending beyond security
© Provided by Roll Call Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a lead negotiator on the bipartisan gun safety package, speaks with a reporter in the Senate subway Wednesday.

Mill Creek Township School District in Pennsylvania plans to upgrade its surveillance cameras, radios and a door monitoring system with a $500,000 federal grant, one of hundreds awarded across the country over the past four years as part of a $1 billion program Congress passed to address school violence.

But Superintendent Ian Roberts said the grant won’t cover upgrades like security vestibules on its more than 40 entrances at 10 schools, and the district can’t afford that immediately. “From an infrastructure standpoint, there’s still some things that are lacking in this and other districts,” Roberts said.

Congress now appears poised to spend even more to bolster physical security at local schools in response to a recent wave of mass shootings, although Democrats and some public health experts have doubted the effectiveness of those measures in stopping active shooters.

A bipartisan Senate bill unveiled Tuesday includes $300 million for school security grants, including $100 million for a program that can be used to “harden” schools meant to make them more difficult to target. The Senate is expected to have a procedural vote on the bill Thursday.

But this time, the legislation also includes much larger investments in the kind of community mental health resources that experts said may help prevent mass shootings, such as the one last month in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 students and two teachers were killed.

Experts like Odis Johnson, executive director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Safe and Healthy Schools, said research has shown that even as school security spending has increased, so have school shootings.

“This whole idea that we can only focus on the school, and think that a school can do it all, is just not going to stop active shooters,” Johnson said. “There’s not enough Plexiglas, law enforcement, barricades, locks, bars on doors, none of that is going to stop an active shooter from gaining entry into a school.”

‘Harden’ schools

Republicans such as Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the lead negotiator for his party on the latest Senate bill, have argued that Congress must include funds to increase physical security at schools. In his floor speech Tuesday announcing the bill text, he referred to reports that the shooter in Uvalde entered through an unlocked door at the school.

“That’s an obvious vulnerability,” Cornyn said in a floor speech. “Schools need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, which means evaluating physical security measures, reviewing current protocol, adopting best practices.”

Republicans have broadly pushed for closer ties between schools and law enforcement in response to shootings, measures that left Democrats less than enthusiastic.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said on the Senate floor in May that “hardening” schools “would have done nothing to prevent this shooting,” since there were guards and police officers already at the school when the shooter showed up.

“The shooter got past all of them with two assault weapons that he purchased. They couldn’t stop him,” Schumer said.

One of the Democratic negotiators, Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he would be willing to “vote for some things that harden our schools that make me a little uncomfortable, frankly, if Republicans are willing to vote to tighten up the nation’s firearms laws in a way that they have been unwilling to do previously.”

During his floor speech Tuesday announcing the text of the bill, Murphy emphasized the bipartisan compromises to provide more resources for mental health treatment nationwide and new restrictions on straw purchases and gun trafficking.

Other resources

The funds for school security in the bill are dwarfed by the several billion dollars invested in mental health resources, including $2 billion that could be used for school-based mental health care.

Backers of the bill emphasized the funds would be put toward mental health care nationwide, with Cornyn calling it “the single largest investment in community-based mental health treatment in American history.”

Murphy emphasized the resources it would provide for school-based mental health treatment and support for violence interrupter programs such as those in Hartford, Conn.

“We have significant new funding in this bill for school-based health centers to make sure that kids are better served, especially those kids who are in crisis,” Murphy said.

Johnson said broader efforts to include more mental health resources can help reduce the chances of a shooting on campus.

“We should make sure they have mental health resources, social-emotional supports, teachers trained in trauma-informed practices, restorative justice practices, these are the things that schools can do that is in their control,” Johnson said.

Grants spent

If passed, the legislative focus would be a turn from the federal government’s approach so far. Congress passed the program providing Mill Creek’s funding, the STOP School Violence Act, as part of an omnibus appropriations bill in 2018. The $1 billion, decadelong program was the only step Congress took following a mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school in 2017.

Overall, the federal government has announced almost $400 million in grants, which have gone to state departments of education and local communities. The Olean City School District in New York put its $425,000 grant toward an upgraded security system and new camera system. Wisconsin’s Southern Door County School District plans to use its $156,000 grant for classroom evacuation and lockdown kits, facility door alarms and bus surveillance equipment.

The federal grants layer on top of state school safety grants. A $69,000 school safety grant from the Texas government went to Uvalde Independent School District, home to Robb Elementary School, the site of the shooting last month.

Texas state documents did not list the purpose of the grant, but a district security document lists measures such as a security vestibule at a district high school and a threat reporting system and cameras at junior and high schools.

The current federal program works through two avenues at the Justice Department: the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Community Oriented Policing Services. Some COPS grants, such as the one Mill Creek received, can be used for schools’ physical security.

In the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years, The Justice Department awarded about 150 COPS grants. Not all the recipients were school districts, and the districts that did receive the grants represent a fraction of schools across the country.

Backers of the program, including former COPS office executive director Phil Keith, said it was immensely popular among school districts.

Keith acknowledged the program has its limitations, though. Small security failures, like cafeteria workers opening a door to help ventilate a hot kitchen, can defeat the purpose of millions of dollars in investments.

“The rule is: If you have kids in that classroom, you lock the door. Except when teachers want to smoke, they may give students assignments, take a break, go out and leave the door open. It happens all the time,” Keith said.

Last resort

Experts such as Johnson and Jagdish Khubchandani, a public health professor at New Mexico State University, said those security measures come into play only when every other part of the school system has failed.

“If someone has it in their mind to shoot up a school and die, then no amount of physical security will deter them,” Khubchandani said.

Khubchandani argued that $1 million spent to increase school security may be better spent on school counseling or other resources to help students more broadly. He likened “hardening” schools to treating a heart attack with medication, instead of recognizing the risk years ago and treating it with diet and exercise.

“What we have in America is an endemic disease. We don’t have the right prescription, we just prescribe something to make ourselves feel good,” Khubchandani said.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Bad Boy for Lifetime Achievement

BET attendees incuding Rick Ross and French Montana celebrate Diddy, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the event. (June 27) Read more »

Girl Scout cookie scam: Dad, daughter wanted for taking money, never delivering orders, police say

The Girl Scouts of Suffolk County is now urging all victims to file a police report Read more »

Vietnam halts scuba diving off popular island to protect coral

© Quang DUC The waters off Hon Mun island are a popular diving spot in Vietnam Vietnam has banned swimming and scuba diving at a popular central tourist spot in ... Read more »

Here's How to Realistically Factor Social Security Into Your Retirement Plan

Millions of seniors today collect Social Security, and for many, those benefits serve as their sole or primary income source. Unfortunately, it’s those same people who tend to wind up ... Read more »

Cops Appear to Shove Jodie Sweetin in Viral Roe v. Wade Protest Clip

© Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage;/David McNew/Getty Images Jodie Sweetin is pictured on April 3, 2017, in New York City. Protesters are pictured inset marching to denounce the U.S. Supreme Court decision to ... Read more »

Heavy rainfall causes flooding in Russia-annexed Crimea

(Reuters) – Dozens of houses were flooded in the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea on Monday and people were evacuated from towns after heavy rainfall caused a river to burst its ... Read more »

Coleman closing its plant after 40 years in operation, about 150 workers will be laid off

© Provided by WOAI San Antonio NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Layoffs are coming to the New Braunfels area. Caption: KABB The camping gear company Coleman is closing its plant there ... Read more »

Afghanistan quake survivors seek help to rebuild

Emergency aid has been reaching survivors of last week’s deadly earthquake in Afghanistan. (June 27) Read more »

Bexar County Sheriff says he will not 'persecute Texas women for pursuing rights'

Sheriff Javier Salazar said as a dad of two daughters, he will defend their ability to do what they feel is right with their bodies. Read more »

Woman fatally shot after hitting security guard with car at Dallas club, officials say

Police said another security guard at the scene also shot into the victim's vehicle. Read more »

South Carolina resident dragged into pond by alligator, killed

“Our hearts go out to the family and community members impacted by this tragic incident,” the Horry County Police Department said. Read more »

14-year-old Eagle Scout from Whitehall, Michigan earns all 139 merit badges

Less than .5% of Boy Scouts earn this honor. "I used to get bullied a lot," said 14-year-old Ben Hayes, "But when I got to Scouts, everybody was so kind to me." Read more »

U.S. stock futures point to further Wall Street gains on view bad news is good news

© kenny holston/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images MARKET SNAPSHOT U.S. stock futures pointed to an extension of last week’s gains, buoyed by data showing a slowing economy that in turn could limit ... Read more »

Kendrick Perkins Admits He Was Terrified Of Facing LeBron James In Game 7 In The 2008 Playoffs: "This Was The Only Time That I Actually Prayed That Something Happened To Him At Practice. Let Us Get Breaking News That LeBron Tore His ACL."

© Provided by Fadeaway World View the original article to see embedded media. Kendrick Perkins tends to have absolutely no filter on his mouth when he’s on camera and it ... Read more »

Newly elected Republican congresswoman accuses Nancy Pelosi of pushing aside her daughter photo op

A newly elected Republican congresswoman has accused Nancy Pelosi of ‘pushing’ her young daughter to the side during a photo op. Rep. Mayra Flores from Texas was getting sworn-in by ... Read more »

China still has grip on US higher education despite closure of Confucius Institutes

© Provided by Washington Examiner Republican lawmakers called on the Biden administration to better monitor Chinese influence in higher education after a report detailed that a number of universities had ... Read more »

‘People are walking off the job’: workers blame American Red Cross for US blood shortage

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Valérie Macon/AFP/Getty Images The American Red Cross, which controls about 40% of the blood supply in the US, declared a national blood shortage in ... Read more »

The Polluter Just Got a Million-Dollar Fine. That Won’t Cure This Woman’s Rare Cancer.

by Lisa Song ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. Rhonda Fratzke recalls getting a ... Read more »

USMNT transfer news, live! Latest reports, rumors, updates

© Provided by NBC Sports USMNT transfer news: With the 2022 World Cup now just five months from kicking off in Qatar, the summer transfer window looks set to be ... Read more »

Covid anxiety is giving way to economic anxiety. How to cope.

© Provided by NBC News We waited for vaccines, for boosters and for lockdowns to be lifted. Major life events were postponed or — worse — missed. But the hope ... Read more »

Majority of Americans are concerned Roe decision will be used to overturn other rights: poll

© Provided by The Hill A majority of Americans are concerned that the the Supreme Court’s bombshell decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will be used as the basis to ... Read more »

Remembering Sean Williamson: Firefighter killed in building collapse to be laid to rest Monday

Sean Williamson was 27-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department who was most recently assigned to Ladder 18. Read more »

Dallas Middle-Schooler Collects Books for Uvalde Children Affected by Shooting

Thirteen-year-old Sia Sankaran of Dallas is raising money and collecting book donations to create 800 “grief kits” for Uvalde children who were affected by the mass shooting that took the ... Read more »

Eagles’ Devon Allen qualifies for World Championships in 110-meter hurdles

© Provided by NBC Sports Eagles wide receiver Devon Allen didn’t have his best showing at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships on Sunday, but he did well enough ... Read more »

Trump Reportedly Poured $1.3 Million In Political Contributions Into His Own Businesses After Losing Election

© Provided by HuffPost (Photo: Douglas Sacha via Getty Images) (Photo: Douglas Sacha via Getty Images) Former President Donald Trump continued to fundraise after he lost the 2020 election, and ... Read more »

Blake Masters’ Views on Gay Marriage May Surprise His Political Master Peter Thiel

© Provided by The Daily Beast Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Alamy Republican senatorial candidate Blake Masters enjoys the financial and political support of his longtime friend, mentor, and ... Read more »

Tesla Has a New Rival on the Rise

© Provided by TheStreet The maker of premium and high-end electric vehicles remains the market leader in electric vehicles but sees a threatening rival. Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. ... Read more »

Mecca launches Click and Collect in Australia

Popular beauty retailer Mecca has announced it will be introducing a new Click and Collect service to selected stores from July 5. Customers will be able to order desired beauty ... Read more »

Memphis bets on 'Elvis': Will the movie be a 'billboard for people' to visit?

MEMPHIS – International visitors to Memphis were a rarity for much of the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, Memphis Tourism did not slow down its ... Read more »

Norway: Suspect in deadly Pride shooting agrees to custody

© Provided by Associated Press A Norwegian national flag flutters over flowers and rainbow flags that are placed at the scene of a shooting in central of Oslo, Norway, Sunday, ... Read more »

Abortion bans could leave close to half of US obstetrics residents with inadequate training

Accreditation rules require training in abortions for residents, who may also need it for treating miscarriages and other complications, doctors say. Read more »

Las Colinas Grandmother Murdered by Cable Man: Police

Link video: http://nbclim-download.edgesuite.net/Prod/NBCU_LM_VMS_-_KXAS/339/610/Irving_Homicide_83YO_121619__992499.mp4 NBCUniversal, Inc. There are new details into the murder of an 83-year-old Las Colinas grandmother who was murdered in her own home, police say, by her cable ... Read more »

4 injured in 4-vehicle crash on Belt Parkway in Ozone Park

OZONE PARK, Queens (WABC) — Two cars that may have been racing on the Belt Parkway appear to have caused a four-car crash that injured four people. The BMW and ... Read more »

Censors delete discussion of Beijing's future COVID control

© Provided by Associated Press A restaurant cook wearing a mask takes a break out on the sidewalk, Monday, June 27, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) TAIPEI, Taiwan ... Read more »

MLB Monday: Late-night bets and a fun player prop

Subscribe to Yahoo Sportsbook Daily Apple Podcasts • Stitcher • Google Podcasts • Spotify Scott Pianowski gives you two wagers for this wonderful June MLB baseball slate. Scott targets the ... Read more »

More than 1 million voters switch to GOP in warning for Dems

© Provided by Associated Press FILE – A person waits in line to vote in the Georgia’s primary election on May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. More than 1 million voters ... Read more »

Villagers cheer Indonesian for capturing big crocodile with rope

© Reuters/ANSAR 4-metre long crocodile captured in Buton By Angie Teo JAKARTA (Reuters) – Fellow villagers have praised an Indonesian man for capturing a crocodile longer than 4 metres (13 ... Read more »

Biden receives backlash for not wanting to expand Supreme Court

© Provided by Salon Joe Biden US President Joe Biden delivers remarks after visiting a memorial near a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, on May 17, 2022. NICHOLAS ... Read more »

The 15 Most-Divorced Cities in the U.S.

1/17 SLIDES © 4 PM production / Shutterstock.com The 15 Most-Divorced Cities in the U.S. Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on ChamberOfCommerce.org. Marriage — and divorce — in the ... Read more »

Americans stealing gas, reselling it amid record prices: 'There's no Robin Hood in this'

Thieves across the United States are stealing gas, either by physically taking gas from pumps and other vehicles or by hacking gas retailers’ networks, as fuel prices hit record highs. ... Read more »