When my children were very young, I chose to spend my days off volunteering in their classrooms. I did this to spend time with my children and be an active participant in their education, but the experience left me changed for other reasons.
I began volunteering in their elementary school shortly after the tragedy at Columbine, and as a young Los Angeles Police Department officer I received training to combat active shooter threats. The experience shook me to my core. I had always known that danger existed on our city streets, but I hoped that our children were safe in their schools.
Unfortunately, the 19 years since Columbine have done little to ease my fears. According to FBI statistics, at least 41 school shootings have occurred across the country since 2000. In just the first six months of 2018, we have experienced at least 31 deaths, 59 injuries, and thousands of lives changed forever.
Your Congress has taken measures to limit school shootings, namely the passage of the STOP Act via the 2018 omnibus bill, which provides grants through the Department of Justice to local governments to improve school security by helping fund deterrent measures.
But, since then, no new legislation has been passed on this pressing matter.
This has not deterred several passionate members of Congress, who have been introducing creative legislation that could help stem the tide of school violence.
I have introduced H.R. 5307, the School Training, Equipment, and Protection Act of 2018. This bill stems from multiple conversations with law enforcement professionals following the tragedy in Parkland, Florida.
From these meetings two central concerns were shared: 1) there needs be better training for law enforcement and school personnel to respond to active shooter threats; and 2) schools need help in determining where their security vulnerabilities lie.
I have also spent time speaking with local education professionals because they have a role to play in the safety of their facilities as well.
From these meetings, we have listened, learned and are currently drafting legislation tailored to help local education officials to better utilize existing grant programs to help make schools safer.
Congress needs to focus on real, passable solutions to our school violence problem. For far too long, both sides of the aisle have spent precious time pointing fingers at one another after tragedies while accomplishing little.
It is time for Congress to step up and deliver bipartisan solutions to this problem. Both the STEP Act and the Resolution to Protect our Youth will give schools and law enforcement the tools and training necessary to better protect our children.
Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, represents the 25th Congressional District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley.