Sandy Hook Promise Commends Bipartisan Gun Violence Prevention Progress in Passage of the STOP School Violence Act, Fix NICS, Gun Research Policy

Sandy Hook Promise applauds the bipartisan passage of gun violence prevention policies in the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus funding bill. Sandy Hook Promise has proudly worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 (H.R. 4909/S. 2495) that will train millions more students and adults to Know the Signs of gun violence and how to act to prevent it. Sandy Hook Promise has also supported the Fix NICS Act to increase reporting to the background checks system and policy to ensure the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) can research gun violence prevention.   

“We have been working for over a year to pass the STOP School Violence Act to give our students and educators proven training to prevent all forms of violence and self-harm in our schools. We were proud to work with the bipartisan champions of this legislation to ensure millions more students will be trained to know the signs of violence and act to save lives. We also applaud the passage of the Fix NICS Act that will strengthen our existing background checks system. Our work does not end here, we will continue to bring our prevention programs to schools and communities across the country at no cost and advocate for life-saving policies from extreme risk protection orders to universal background checks to protect all of our children from gun violence,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, and the father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.

Sandy Hook Promise praises the following members for introducing and advancing the Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018 to final passage: Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-KY), and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Udall (D-NM), Dean Heller (R-NV), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Senator Todd Young (R-IN), Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), and Senator Angus King (I-ME).  We also thank Senate and House of Representative leadership, including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in addition to the Senate and House Judiciary Committee Chairmen and Ranking Members, for their leadership in expediting this legislation across the finish line.

The Stoneman Douglas students have shown the country that we can make real progress ending gun violence in our communities,” said Congressman Deutch. “I’m proud that our bipartisan school safety legislation will become law, thanks to the great work of Sandy Hook Promise and my Republican colleague Congressman Rutherford.  Communities across the country will now be able to implement programs to prevent school violence, including shootings and suicides. It is a first step, and an important one. I hope that we can build on this victory and take more steps to address gun violence.”

“I want to thank the members and parents of Sandy Hook Promise for the vital role they played in getting this bill passed and for all they have done to advocate for school safety and violence prevention,” stated Congressman Rutherford. “As a 40-year career law enforcement officer, I know firsthand the importance of identifying signs of trouble and intervening in a situation before it escalates to violence. With the passage of this bill, we are taking important steps to keep our students and teachers safe by working together to prevent tragedy before it occurs.”

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked closely with families from Sandy Hook and Parkland, along with a number of other key groups, to advance the STOP School Violence Act,” said Senator Hatch.  “This historic, bipartisan proposal extends critical, lifesaving resources to schools to keep our students safe from.  I’m deeply grateful to members in both parties who have worked with me to get this bill included in the omnibus.  While my legislation is just a first step and not a perfect solution, we know it will save lives.”

“The STOP School Violence Act will provide tools and resources to law enforcement, teachers, and students to help prevent acts of violence in our schools before they start—but, it’s just one part of the solution, said Senator Klobuchar. I believe we still need to pass a number of other safety measures related to guns, including universal background checks.”

“This bill gives students and school officials the tools they need to help reduce fear in our classrooms and a plan of action when warning signs appear,” said Rep. Rogers. “Enhancing early detection, prevention, and coordination with law enforcement will save lives. There may not be one single answer to preventing all future violence in schools, but this funded effort is very much a part of the solution.”

"When we drop off our kids at school, we want them to be excited about the day ahead — not fearful for their safety. Including the STOP School Violence Act in the Omnibus means it will make it to the president’s desk. This is the first of what I hope will be many steps towards making schools safer and preventing gun violence. The Act will give teachers, students and law enforcement more support from Congress,” Rep. Derek Kilmer said. “But the problem of gun violence needs to be addressed directly. The leaders of Congress need to listen to the students and teachers marching this and demanding more action on this issue and better policies that make it harder to use a gun to commit violence.”

The Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending bill includes the STOP School Violence Act with $75 million in the first year and $100 million in annual funding for a total of 10 years. The STOP School Violence Act was introduced in the House of Representatives before the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to build off of the research and lessons learned from Sandy Hook and other tragic shootings and scale proven, evidence-based early intervention programming to schools across the country to prevent future school shootings, suicides, and other forms of school violence. The legislation invests in early intervention and prevention programs by authorizing the Department of Justice to make grants to states for the purposes of training students, school personnel, and law enforcement to identify signs of violence and intervene to prevent people from hurting themselves or others. The legislation also permits the development and operation of anonymous reporting systems, and formation of school threat assessment and intervention teams to help schools intake and triage threats before tragedy strikes.

The FY2018 omnibus also includes the Fix NICS Act and policy to clarify that CDC can research the causes of gun violence. The FIX NICS Act holds agencies accountable for reporting violent and other prohibited persons into the nation’s background check system and creates a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing a firearm. The new language on CDC research helps put an end to the decades old suppression on gun violence research, known as the Dickey Amendment, making it possible for CDC to sponsor evidence-based research into ways to reduce gun violence.