Washington, DC – Earlier this week, a bill to prevent school shootings lead by Representative Lucy McBath (GA-06) was approved by the House Committee on Education and Labor. The School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act, H.R.5428, will allow the public and policy makers to more accurately assess gun violence on school campuses and work toward solutions to keep children safe. McBath delivered remarks in favor of the bill during the Committee proceedings, which occurred on the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta Spa Shooting.
“School shootings and mass shootings—including the tragic Atlanta Spa Shootings in Georgia—have become far too common in our country,” said McBath. “When we send our children off to school, we expect them to learn math, science, art, and music—not how to hide from active shooters. There is not currently a federal definition for a ‘school shooting,’ yet far too many of our young people have witnessed one firsthand. We must understand the extent of this heartbreaking tragedy before we can find the solutions necessary to solve it, and I thank all those who continue to stand with us in the fight to end gun violence.”
Crucially, this law would create a definition for ‘school shooting,’ which does not exist in federal law. Currently, policy makers rely on media reports of ‘school shootings,’ which can vary widely. With a standard definition, lawmakers would have a reliable way to measure incidents, trends, and the impact of reforms and strategies designed to save lives.
This bill also directs the Department of Education to consult with the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to produce comprehensive annual reports on school safety indicators, such as shooting and fatality statistics, shooter and victim demographics, shooter motivations, the types of firearms and ammunition acquired and used, and more. It would also track prevention efforts, such as building designs, and communication and response plans.
- Create a federal definition for “mass shooting” and “school shooting,” establishing one standard definition in order to avoid subjective reporting of the circumstances surrounding these incidents.
- Require the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, to publish annual reports on indicators of school crime. The reports would:
- Track the number of shootings, the number of people killed, demographics of shooters and victims, the motivation of shooters, types of firearms and ammunition used, how the firearm was acquired, and more.
- Track information on the existence or absence of safety and prevention measures at the time of the shooting, such as building designs, communication and response plans, and more.