Stand With Parkland Testifies before Senate Committee

Stand With Parkland Testifies before Senate Committee

Last week, two parents from Stand With Parkland testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs asking for help to increase school safety.

Stand With Parkland is a group of 17 families who lost loved ones in the Parkland shooting. On Thursday of last week, two parents who are members of the group testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs asking for changes and help to make schools safer.

“We know the next school mass murderer is already out there. The gun that he will use is already out there,” said Max Schachter, founder of Safe Schools for Alex, who lost his son 14-year-old son in the shooting. “It is not a question of if, it is a question of when.”

According to Education Week, there were 24 school shootings in 2018, and there have been more than 700 school shootings since the Columbine High School shooting 20 years ago.

Tom Hoyer, the Stand With Parkland treasurer, said that the group is focusing more on mental health care, suicide prevention, responsible firearm ownership and secure campuses, than ending gun violence.

“What happened to my son and the others that were killed and wounded on that day was the result of a lot of failures on a lot of levels,” said Hoyer, who lost his 15-year-old son, Luke. “We came to the conclusion that there is no single answer to solving this issue.”

He said that there should be better communication between mental health professionals and law enforcement to help prevent people who are potentially dangerous from obtaining weapons.

“My son’s killer, we’ve since found out, was known to the school, the sheriff’s office, a local mental health agency, and the FBI – he was known to all of them as an angry, violent, and potentially dangerous person,” Hoyer said. “They never shared information about him — they never connected the dots.”

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the committee, said the group’s argument made sense, but there might be some barriers to implementation.

“It makes an awful lot of sense to me that you want to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people or people who have serious mental health problems,” said Johnson, referring to Risk Protection Orders or Red Flag Laws. “But at the same time, I have full respect for due process. There is a real concern, what do you do if they’re not guilty yet?”

Florida passed a red flag law last year after the Parkland shooting, but the National Rifle Association does not support these laws.

"Though the NRA has fought to deny dangerous people access to firearms for decades, we have not supported recent Red Flag law legislation because it lacks strong due process protections and fails to require treatment for those who are adjudicated to be dangerously mentally ill," NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide said. "These are simple yet significant adjustments that will keep communities safe while preserving the rights of all law-abiding Americans.”

The group also asked that active shoot drills were practiced, and the enforcement of laws that were already in place in regards to firearms.