- Our friends at Neighbors on Call are sponsoring a series of "NCGA 101" events with local legislators in Durham, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, and Pittsboro. Register and share!
- 2020 will be here before we know it, so why not get some GOTV training with You Can Vote? Check the calendar of events for voter education workshops.
- NC Open Gov. Coalition and the Elon University School of Communications host Sunshine Day on March 11 to celebrate openness and transparency in North Carolina government. Register here.
School safety has been a hot topic for more than a year now. On July 5, 2018, the North Carolina State Board of Education sent their weekly Legislative Update and listed 12 bills regarding school safety that did not become law. Topics included licensure and compensation for school psychologists, threat assessment teams, school resource officers, school vulnerability assessments, risk management plans, and safety grants. One bill, HB1039, which did not pass, was introduced to allow school personnel to carry a handgun to respond to acts of violence. (Read more from Stamp NC Blue's previous post.) This bill appears to have made a come back this year as HB216.
House bill 216, the School Self-Defense Act, introduced by Rep. Pittman, passed it's first reading last week. If passed into law it would "authorize certain members of the faculty or staff of a school to carry a handgun on the school grounds to respond to acts of violence or an imminent threat of violence."
Opposition is being heard from the education community. Read more here from Kristin Beller, President of the Wake County chapter of North Carolina Association of Educators. Read more from others opposing and supporting the bill here.
Some questions being asked are . . . shouldn't we leave firearms to the experts? What if an accident occurred with a teacher's firearm? Would teacher's leave schools if guns were allowed to be conceal carried? Would parents pull their children from schools?
At a time when we see reports that gun possession has increased on school campuses, perhaps we should be asking is bringing more guns onto campus the answer? Perhaps we should be thinking about possible ways to prevent school shootings.
Psychology Today aggregated data concerning school shootings from the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When looking at mass school shootings they found many themes. Some of the most notable when thinking about prevention are that more than 90% of shooters were current or recent students, 75% felt bullied or harassed, many felt they were unfairly treated by teachers, many were socially awkward and isolated themselves, many came from dysfunctional families or families with lack of supervision, 68% got the guns from their homes or the homes of a relative, and they often showed their anger or frustrations through art or social media.
As school employees, we have the ability to get to know our students, build relationships, and understand patterns of behavior. We can be the first line of defense against bullying. We can be a trusted adult for children who don't feel they have anyone to turn to at home.
We have to take student and teacher reports of concerning behavior seriously, and we have to have a plan of when and how to follow up on them. See this article Teachers feared Parkland shooter a year and a half before the massacre.
Take action now! Contact Rep. David Lewis and your NCGA House representative if they are on the Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House Committee. Tell them to stop HB216. Tell them to arm schools with more resources, not guns!
(Note: another bill, HB76, School Safety Omnibus was written to create "threat assessment teams" and is moving on to the Rules Committee.)