Exploring school and gun safety since the Sandy Hook shootings
Beth Hawkins, MinnPost, December 17, 2013 – A few Sandy Hook anniversary items for your consideration:
In the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012, school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Minnesota lawmakers introduced 13 school safety bills — 14 if you count both the House and Senate versions of the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act.
They passed one: a measure reinstating a small school safety center in the Department of Public Safety.
Safe Schools, meanwhile, was tabled quite literally in the middle of the night in the 2013 Legislature’s final, cynical hours. According to a Facebook post by one of its chief authors, Minneapolis DFL Sen. Scott Dibble, the anti-bullying measure was withdrawn after Minority Leader David Hann, of Eden Prairie, threatened to run the clock with a 10-hour filibuster.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis had lobbied hard for defeat of the school-climate package, which it described as an “Orwellian nightmare” and an extension of the marriage-equality bill.
The move left Minnesota with one of the weakest anti-bullying laws in the country, as just 37 words long. Other states made bigger strides on school safety in general.
Snapshots of change
An interactive tracker put together by Education Week includes a list of the measures, all of which were held over for the coming session, as well as bills passed, killed or pending throughout the country. Readers can investigate snapshots of change both last spring and now.
According to a heartbreaking retrospective put together by Mother Jones, Minnesota passed two of 41 laws strengthening gun regulations and one weakening them. According to the accompanying charts, two of the state’s three new laws concerned the government’s ability to track guns. One made it stronger, the other weaker.
The magazine looked at the gun-related deaths of 194 children ages 12 and under and found that 127 of them died in their own homes. Another 30 died in the home of a friend or relative.
“According to a recent study by the Children’s Defense Fund,” the investigation reported, “the gun death rate for children and teens in the US is four times greater than in Canada, the country with the next highest rate, and 65 times greater than in Germany and Britain.”
There’s also a video that will reduce you to tears of Newtown’s struggle to deal with the half million cards, letters and children’s drawings that poured into the community in the two months after the massacre.
Finally, an item via retired teacher and frequent MinnPost commenter Ray Schoch, who shares my admiration for Slate legal writer Dahlia Lithwick: “I find myself joining manyother parents who worry that in teaching our children how to behave when somebody storms their classroom with a gun, we have unloosed something dramatic upon them without much serious reflection,” Lithwick wrote in a thoughtful piece posted last week. “Lockdowns are simply what we do now.”