Is Sen. Chuck Schumer right to block Luke and Alex School Safety Act?
- On May 24, 2022, the second-deadliest school shooting in the US occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas with the death of 19 children and two adults. The suspect was an 18-year-old gunman who legally bought a gun after his birthday; he was shot and killed by a currently unnamed off-duty Customs and Border Patrol agent amidst the massacre.
- On May 25, Senator Chuck Schumer blocked the Luke and Alex School Safety Act after it was pushed by Senator Ron Johnson, claiming the bill “could see more guns in schools.” Schumer tweeted, “We need real solutions–We will vote on gun legislation starting with the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act.”
- The Luke and Alex School Safety Act of 2021 is a bill to establish best practices and recommendations for school safety through the use of SchoolSafety.gov in order to “improve the health, safety, and welfare of persons in school settings.” It was named after Luke Hoyer and Alex Schachter, two students killed in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School attack in Parkland, Florida.
- Those favoring stricter gun laws in America include 32% of Republicans, 59% of Independents, and 91% of Democrats.
The deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 21 people were murdered, has renewed calls for stricter gun legislation. Democrats have been asking for tighter gun control laws for years, but Republicans seem to think the laws we have today are enough. But seeing how recently Sen. Schumer blocked the Luke and Alex School Safety Act bill, it may seem like Democrats don't want to embrace reform. However, that is not the case. Schumer understands this bill is nothing more than sugar-coating the gun control issue.
The Luke and Alex School Safety Act only establishes the best practices for school safety, such as having security guards, installing metal detectors, and so on. This act does not directly address the gun issue. More importantly, the gunman involved in the shooting in Texas got inside the school despite the presence of security personnel and security measures already in place. Yet, instead of focusing on the guns, Republicans want to apply a 'bandaid' solution to a bigger issue. Ensuring that teachers, parents, and school officials all have a say in the best practices for school security is not enough. What Schumer would like to see is the passage of legislation that effectively addresses more stringent background checks on gun sales, have a red flag system, a buyback program, close all loopholes on how people buy guns, get military-style weapons and untraceable ghost guns off the streets, and prohibiting certain people from accessing guns. This move by Republicans would simply waste time and resources, simply codifying what is already available in terms of security. Gun legislation must happen today before the same story repeats itself.
Senator Chuck Schumer has stated he is blocking the Luke and Alex School Safety Act. The bill requires DHS to establish a 'Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety Best Practices' to be used by state and local educational agencies, law enforcement agencies, and others. The DHS would have to collect data analytics and user feedback on best practices and recommendations identified by the clearinghouse. Although the clearinghouse is already available at SchoolSafety.gov, the bill would codify it into law.
All of this seems quite reasonable. Additionally, senators from both parties have supported the bill previously. It passed unanimously out of committee twice. Contrary to Schumer's allegation that the bill 'could see more guns in schools,' it would merely create a permanent primary resource managed by the federal government. This is not legislation meant to solve all gun violence in schools, nor is it meant to. Yet, it is a small step in the positive direction.
Schumer is playing politics. He said he would consider it if Republicans agree to debate the domestic terrorism bill. Either the bill is good enough to be debated and voted for or against on its own merits, or it isn't. Further, if Schumer truly believes the legislation could lead to more guns in schools, which he opposes, why would he even say he would consider it under other circumstances? Tying this bill to another stand-alone bill still open for debate is why people are frustrated with politics. Schumer's political gamesmanship is unseemly, if not unexpected. Schumer should try to do what is right in this instance rather than attempt to score cheap political points.
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