School safety special session needed

Following a deadly school shooting today in Santa Fe, Texas, Washington State Senator John Braun called for a special legislative session to improve school safety before students return to class for the 2018-19 school year. Braun said as both a lawmaker and parent, he wants the Legislature to continue building on work from the 2018 session. He issued the following statement:

“My heart goes out to the victims and grieving members of the Santa Fe community. Their loss is unimaginable and yet another example of reprehensible terror in our school system.

“No law or legislative action will alone change human hearts and altogether stop violence. But the Legislature can take steps to reduce the risk of deadly school violence, which stems most often from mental illness.

“Violence in American schools frequently results in Republicans and Democrats arguing instead of working to solve the problem. Fortunately in Washington state, there are areas where we can find agreement and make meaningful improvements to better protect our students and educators. Earlier this year I proposed and advocated for putting $500 million in state bonding authority before voters to expand mental health services and treatment in communities statewide. Others have proposed limiting access to certain types of guns by individuals under age 21, or creating anonymous tip lines where safety concerns could be reported to the proper officials.

“We can and should build on this year’s bipartisan work led by Sen. O’Ban working with Senate Democrats, which resulted in a workgroup with diverse experiences to develop strategies to identify and intervene against potential perpetrators of mass shootings. While their reports are not due until December, I encourage the group to meet more frequently and share their recommendations by August, which would give the Legislature time to act this summer – before schools reopen this fall.”