OP-ED: Congress is working together to save lives
Immediately after the devastating Parkland shooting, I met with people in our community to discuss ways we can make our communities safer. Any solutions to the big issues facing our nation must start with open and honest dialogue with folks who have differing opinions. That is why I held a meeting in Stafford Township with the Mayor, Police Chief, Police Captain, a social worker, a local advocate for Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and a local NRA member. It was productive and respectful with no name-calling or finger-pointing. After the meeting, I outlined several immediate steps that could be taken to make our communities safer.
The students of Parkland – and schools across the nation – have been incredible advocates that deserve to be heard. I have always been impressed by the young people I meet daily across the district and recently held a meeting with students in Toms River to discuss school safety. During that meeting we had a serious discussion about improving physical security at schools, bullying, mental health concerns, banning specific weapons, and the NRA. Our children are impacted tremendously by gun violence, so it’s important that our leaders listen to their concerns.
Listening isn’t enough, though.
Just last week, we took bipartisan action to address gun violence and make our schools and communities safer, with several initiatives becoming law.
We took real action to strengthen the federal background check system, through the FIX NICS Act. The Parkland shooter should have never been able to get a gun, period. This legislation will ensure troubled individuals, like this shooter, will no longer be able to obtain a firearm.
Our law enforcement officers are on the front lines, working around the clock to keep us safe. New legislation will provide additional funds for officer safety programs and active shooting training. These additional resources will help get illegal weapons off our street by supporting gang enforcement efforts and gang violence prevention and education.
It’s sickening to think that our banks and even some shopping malls are more secure than the schools we send our children to everyday. Congress acted on this by providing more funding to improve physical security at schools. Research has shown that additional security measures are a major deterrent to gun violence.
The shooting in Parkland was carried out by a deeply troubled individual who displayed serious warning signs. It is vital that we address these issues by empowering our teachers and mental health professionals to get students the help they need. Our bipartisan legislation increased funding for mental health programs, like support services for young people, counseling and mentoring programs, and bullying prevention.
We need more scientific research on gun violence so that we can understand the root causes of these tragedies in our country. Congress finally took steps to allow this by amending the Dickey Amendment to allow the CDC to study gun violence. Gun control advocates have been advocating for this change for many years and Congress acted to fix this.
While more must be done, Congress worked together across party lines to find solutions that will make our communities safer. These steps will save lives. I will continue to do my part in bringing people together to achieve the real results Americans expect and deserve.