Saturday, March 25, 2023

Governors differ on gun control, school safety efforts

As America mourns the victims of its latest mass shooting – 19 elementary school students and two teachers killed in Texas – Democratic governors are increasing their calls for more restrictions on guns.

Several Republican governors are pushing for a different solution: more security in schools.

The division between the nation’s governors reflects a partisan divide that has stymied action in Congress and several state capitals on how best to respond to the record-high number of gun-related deaths in America. The tension between life, liberty and constitutional rights is described in the founding documents of the nation.

Following Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, The Associated Press asked governors across the United States whether they believed their states had an obligation to stop mass shootings and gun violence. and if so, how to do so.

About half of the governor’s offices responded to the Associated Press. It was agreed that it was their responsibility to try to do something. Democrats and Republicans alike noted the need to invest in mental health services and training to try to help people potentially prone to violent outbursts.

But generally after that the similarity ended.

Should people under the age of 21 be banned from buying semi-automatic guns? Shouldn’t ammunition magazines be limited to no more than 10 bullets?

Several Democratic governors said “yes.”

“If you’re not serious about guns, you’re not serious about crime prevention. I think that’s more true today than ever,” said Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, where a decade ago 20 students and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania Gov. said he supports limits on both bullet capability and semi-automatic weapons purchases. He rallied with gun-control advocates in Philadelphia on Friday, condemning his state’s Republican-led legislature for not passing his gun resolutions.

“They would rather lobby gun manufacturing than pass a commonsense law preventing children from dying,” Wolf said.

Of the Republican governors who responded to the Associated Press, only Vermont Governor Phil Scott expressed support for such gun control efforts. Scott signed a law in 2018 that limits the capacity of firearms magazines and raises the general age to purchase guns to 21, with exceptions for 18 to 20-year-olds who take firearms safety courses. pass through.

Other Republican governors either sidestepped Associated Press’s questions about specific gun control measures or said they opposed them. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy was a firm “no” on setting bullet limits or age restrictions that could violate constitutional rights.

“Tougher gun laws are not the solution to this problem – we must focus our attention on the mental health conditions in our communities,” Dunlavy’s office said in an email.

Ohio Gov. Mike Devine said he would not support such gun control proposals, as he believes they have no chance of passing in the state’s GOP-led legislature. Devine, a Republican, instead proposed spending “a significant amount” on efforts to keep schools safe from potential attacks. He didn’t say exactly what that security would include.

Republican governors were more likely to support efforts to strengthen security in schools. The Associated Press asked about proposals to equip teachers and staff with firearms, add security guards, or secure schools with things like metal detectors and fencing.

Although her office did not respond to the Associated Press’s survey, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota denounced calls for gun control as “garbage” during a speech Friday at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston and schools. Security measures adopted.

“Why do we protect our banks, our stores and celebrities with armed guards but not our children? Aren’t they really our greatest treasure?” Noem said.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa also spoke to reporters on Friday about possible school safety measures.

“It’s looking for ways to toughen schools, it’s talking about having state resource officers,” she said later: “Maybe a gateway into the school system and making sure teachers are trained “

Rejecting proposals to restrict gun ownership, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said the solution was to “focus on individual problems” and continue to provide grants to schools for safety upgrades.

“When kids are in their class, you can call it toughening them up,” Republican Holcomb said.

Some Democrats support funding for specially trained police, known as school resource officers, or to improve the security of buildings. But none of the Democratic governors who answered Associated Press’s questions endorsed teachers or staff to try or stop the attacks.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers – a Democrat who is a former teacher, school superintendent and state education chief – said he worries arming teachers will make schools more dangerous. He said having additional security guards or police in each school building could be both impractical and counterproductive.

“There aren’t enough people to do that,” Evers said, “and I’m not sure we want to turn our educational institutions into armed camps.”


Associated Press writer Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; Tom Davis in Indianapolis; Susan High in Hartford, Connecticut; David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa; Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio; and Associated Press Statehouse reporters from across America contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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