New bill would harden schools, add security officers

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The newly passed gun control bill contained some helpful resources for combatting mental illness, tougher sentencing for black market gun trafficking, and enhancing school security while angering conservatives with its support for “red flag” laws. The school security aspects of the bill still seemed a bit weak overall, however. Now, Ted Cruz and John Barrasso have unveiled a separate bill intended to specifically address security weaknesses in public schools and it contains enough funding to put some serious teeth into the effort. Called the “Safe Kids, Safe Schools, Safe Communities Act of 2022,″ the bill would enhance physical security designs in schools, install mental health professionals to identify potentially violent students and increase the number of trained security officers deployed at schools. And the sponsors claim they can do it all with funds that have already been appropriated. (Daily Wire)

Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would dedicate more than $38 billion to increase school and community safety, including doubling the number of school resource officers nationwide.

“There have been far too many school shootings in this country, and it is past time for Congress to do something to address this problem,” Cruz said in a statement.

“Our Safe Kids, Safe Schools, Safe Communities Act would focus on making schools safer by increasing the number of properly trained school resource officers on campus who can deter and, if necessary, stop school shooters before our kids are harmed, increasing the number of school mental health professionals who can identify at-risk children and ensure those kids get the help they need before they become violent, and providing funding to improve the physical security measures for schools,” he continued.

The $38 billion to pay for this program would be taken from more of the unspent mountain of money that was dumped into the American Rescue Plan. We’re once again talking about spending a significant pile of that money on something that has nothing to do with COVID or keeping people employed during a pandemic lockdown, but if we have to divert those funds to something else, this sounds like one of the better ways to spend it.

There are some aspects of this bill that shouldn’t draw too much opposition from Democrats (though there will always be some who try to block anything suggested by Republicans). Improving door locks, security cameras, and other safety features in public schools shouldn’t be too much for the liberals to swallow. And mental health resources should also be a mostly bipartisan idea.

What I’ll personally be watching for is the Democratic response to the idea of funding more armed school security officers across the board. This is the opposite of what many progressives have been fighting for around the country. They’ve been working to remove police from schools because of racism or whatever, but now we’re seeing how that idea works out. The “police in schools are bad” crowd has been pretty quiet since Uvalde.

Are those champions of “violence intervention specialists” with clipboards going to be ready to go along with this idea now? It’s almost as if Cruz and Barrasso are daring them to say no to the idea of having an armed security officer ready to charge into action if a school shooter shows up. Of course, given all of the lessons we’ve been learning from the disastrous response at Uvalde, the plan assumes that the officer in question will actually rush toward the sound of gunfire as required. We now know that not everyone has that sort of intestinal fortitude.

We’ll need to wait and see the full version of the bill and learn whether or not any amendments will be added. But at least for now, this sounds like one way to take concrete steps that could standardize safety systems in public schools and make it much harder for anyone to pull off a mass shooting. I think Cruz and Barrasso have taken a good initial step here and it would be encouraging to see the Democrats get on board with it.