ALAS Statement on School Safety-February 16, 2018
Contact: Dr. Nancy Lewin, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-466-0808
ASSOCIATION OF LATINO ADMINISTRATORS AND SUPERINTENDENTS (ALAS)
STATEMENT ON SAFETY IN U.S. SCHOOLS
WASHINGTON, D.C.—February 16, 2018—As our nation attempts to make sense of the massacre of high school students and staff in Parkland, Florida, we, the board members of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), are profoundly saddened. In responding to this senseless tragedy, we remain resolved in our unwavering commitment to student safety in our nation’s schools. With the increased frequency of gun-related violence plaguing school campuses, we believe concrete action is necessary; THE ISSUE OF IMPROVING SCHOOL SAFETY MUST ASSUME A PLACE AMONG OUR NATION’S HIGHEST SOCIAL PRIORITIES.
The constitutional right to bear arms held sacrosanct by our nation’s forefathers should not be superseded by the current low threshold of regulation required for access to modern weaponry designed to inflict mass casualties.
Specifically, we believe:
- Congress should examine the merits of legislation designed to curtail access to assault weapons by increasing standards of practice for all background checks, to include additional restrictions for any individual with a prior history of dangerous or violent behavior, or mental health issues. The ability to purchase assault weapons should be completely restricted for anyone under the age of 21, with exceptions among law enforcement and related officials. Costs for enhanced background checks should be passed on to individual purchasers.
- Formal lobbying efforts among organizations representing proponents for the manufacture, distribution, and sale of assault weapons should be restricted, with the intent of reducing any potential influence among our lawmakers on current or proposed legislation regarding the legal standards for purchasing assault weapons.
- Early intervention and counseling programs in our nation’s schools designed to curtail aggressive or violent behavior should be adequately funded to reduce the potential for violence among our nation’s school children. Social service agencies must do more to support at-risk children as they approach adulthood.
- Sophisticated marketing campaigns deployed by the assault weapon industry to attract immature buyers, and the widespread proliferation of violent video games available through the gaming industry, should be scrutinized by public officials to more fully understand their detrimental effects upon our society and public safety.
- Social media outlets must do more to monitor, restrict, and report to law enforcement language or media postings among minor children deemed as serious threats against schools and the students attending them.
Placing responsibility for gun violence in our nation’s schools solely on the actions of a mentally unstable individual acting alone is a flawed argument and oversimplification of a complex, vexing social issue. We believe childhood discipline must begin at home, and owners of deadly weapons are accountable for ensuring they can’t be accessed by children. The evidence is clear that handguns and other weapons brought onto school campuses by children are often accessed from their homes.
Beyond this direct link to the presence of deadly weapons in schools, our current dilemma as a society is that the legal thresholds established to acquire assault weapons among young adults are inadequate and represent an evolving and existential threat within the communities where ALAS members - and all school staffs - are accountable for educating our young people in a safe environment.
Simply put, access to deadly weaponry, particularly by children and young adults, must not be placed above protecting our nation’s most treasured assets – our children - and the consequences wrought by the presence of weapons in the schools where faculty are responsible for educating them.
Board of Directors
Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS)
Approved February 15, 2018