We're currently advocating for three main gun violence prevention policies:
Pass the STOP School Violence Act
Following tragedies like Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, the federal government has funded short-term school safety initiatives focused on crisis response, active shooters, and physical infrastructure. While these are important investments, we have not yet seen sustained strategies to prevent youth violence or STOP suicides and violence in our schools before they happen. Our students, educators, and local law enforcement need the tools and support to take proactive and continuous steps towards improving school safety.
Sandy Hook Promise supports H.R. 4909, the STOP School Violence Act. This legislation would provide grants to states to help our schools implement proven, evidence-based programs that STOP violence before it happens.
The STOP School Violence Act would fund programs to:
- Train everyone in the school ecosystem – school personnel, local law enforcement, and students – to identify and intervene to stop dangerous, violent or unlawful activities;
- Develop and implement anonymous reporting systems for collecting and responding to threats of school violence, in coordinate with local law enforcement; and
- Develop and operate Secret Service-based school threat assessment & intervention teams, and crisis intervention teams, to preemptively triage threats before tragedy hits.
Pass State Mandates for School Safety Programs
In the vast majority of incidents of school violence, students display many warning signs or signals before taking harmful action. We already have evidence-based programs that we know have helped to stop multiple school shootings, suicides, and other acts of school violence. Sandy Hook Promise supports state policy to require all schools to implement the following proven school safety programming to stop violence before it happens.
- School Threat Assessment: Threat assessment teaches adults in schools and youth organizations how to identify, assess and respond to threats of violence or at-risk behavior BEFORE a tragedy takes place. Threat assessment not only addresses the threat itself but also the helps identify and treat the underlying problem in that youth's life that led to him/her making the threat.
- Student Safety and Violence Prevention Training: Students need training to recognize signs and signals, especially within social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and be encouraged and empowered to say something to a trusted adult BEFORE it is too late. This training should be required at least once a year in every school.
- School Personnel and Student Suicide Prevention Training: Youth, educators and administrators must know how to identify, intervene and get help for youth who may be depressed or suicidal. Every school should be required to provide at least one hour of evidence-based suicide prevention training each year to both students and teachers.
- Anonymous Reporting System: Every state should establish an anonymous reporting system, with supporting training, that would be 24/7, free and accessible to all schools, parents, teachers, students, and administrators. This is a critical way to make sure everyone in the school ecosystem knows how to identify the warning signs of violence and that this information quickly gets to those who can help prevent harm.
Pass Extreme Risk Protection Orders
In the aftermath of a shooting incident, we often hear stories from friends or family members about the warning signs the shooter exhibited. If a family is concerned that a loved one poses a risk to themselves or others, but a crime has not yet been committed and the individual does not meet the criteria for firearms prohibition under the mental health categories of the law, there is little they can do to protect their loved one or the public.
Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) empower family members and law enforcement agencies to prevent gun suicides and other gun violence tragedies before they happen. Under such a law, family members and law enforcement officials can petition a court to temporarily separate at-risk individuals from firearms. If the judge finds the person poses a significant danger of injury to self or others, the judge will order that the firearms be temporarily placed in safe storage until the person receives the help they need.
Sandy Hook Promise supports legislation that would enable family or friends to alert law enforcement to a potentially dangerous situation and give law enforcement the tools and authority they need to remove firearms in the interest of public safety. This legislation can be passed at the state level, as it has been in Connecticut, California, Oregon, Indiana, and Washington. Congress can also take action at the federal level to mandate or incentivize state passage of these life-saving laws.
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