As children go back to classrooms for the new academic year, a report described the 193 gun violence incidents that happened in schools during 2021-2022 as the highest number of occurrences since experts began tracking school shooting trends in 2013, and a number nearly four times the average for all other years.
Governor Phil Murphy is squandering $6.5 million in federal money on a contract with a politically-connected business instead of implementing in New Jersey any of the latest recommendations from educators and gun safety experts.
Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, in collaboration with the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), released How To Stop Shootings and Gun Violence in Schools along with a set of solutions to prevent school shootings to keep students and educators safe.
The National Center for Education Statistics in June, released a 31-page report that found there were at least 93 incidents with casualties at public and private schools across the United States in 2020-21, then the highest number in two decades.
Of those 93 school shooting incidents recorded in the 2020-21 school year, 43 involved fatalities and 50 resulted only in injuries.
Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens (ages 1 to 19) in the United States. Every year, 18,000 children and teens are shot and killed or wounded and approximately 3 million are exposed to gun violence.
Murphy’s $6.5 million boondoggle will hire a company—run by the son of a former top State Police deputy commander whose uncle was a longtime Hudson County mayor—to create digital layouts of school buildings that will probably never be used and could be made at far less expense.
“Twenty-three years ago, 13 people were killed at Columbine High School in one of the first mass school shootings in the United States,” said Lisa McCormick, an outspoken gun control advocate. “Since then, there have been at least 943 —close to one thousand— school shooting incidents that resulted in 321 deaths and 652 injuries.”
“While these horrific events must be addressed, Americans should remain aware that the chances of dying in a school shooting incident is still a million to one,” said McCormick. “The 321 school shooting deaths are fewer than one for every million people in the US population. We need a dispassionate response that makes sense despite our emotional anguish over these unthinkable tragedies, a natural desire for quick fixesand the natural impulse among politicians to waste taxpayer money.”
“The answer to stopping gun violence in our schools is not to arm educators or to focus solely on mental health issues, but to commit to meaningful action that addresses all the societal factors contributing to high rates of gun violence and suicide,” said McCormick. “Congress must pass gun-violence prevention legislation that would prevent access to dangerous weapons by those deemed at risk of hurting themselves or others, subject all gun purchasers to background checks, and invest in rigorous research.”
Governor Phil Murphy is using $6.5 million from the federal American Rescue Plan to make digital school layouts available to first responders, spending about $4000 per building to create drawings that can be used during an emergency.
The gesture is a clear indication of Murphy being a complete political hack who is out of touch with the needs of ordinary citizens, even after five years in power.
We need meaningful actions to keep our schools and surrounding communities safe, actions that address what we know about gun violence in America’s schools. Smart leaders would adopt a multifaceted approach that provides school communities with the tools they need to prevent school-based gun violence instead of expecting the unlikely, planning for what to do once it is already too late, and doing so in the least cost-effective manner possible.
The first priority should be preventing shooters from getting their hands on guns by enacting sensible laws. The second set of solutions would empower educators and law enforcement to intervene to address warning signs of violence, to provide the support that students in crisis need, and to keep shooters out of schools.
Having maps or blueprints to guide emergency responders is not a terrible idea but it could be accomplished at far less expense and seems less important than many other ways of stopping gun violence before it gets to the point where SWAT teams need a building layout.
“Does the Governor believe that every school principal is incapable of having a custodian create a fair quality layout of his or her building or that each district could not have this done by a professional engineer for about $500 each?,” McCormick asked.
“Wasting money like this is only going to drive similarly stupid ideas, like arming teachers, allowing college students to carry firearms on campus and other gun deregulation measures,” she said.
In 1966, an ex-Marine named Charles Whitman ascended to the observation deck of the Austin campus’ 30-floor clock tower and began shooting at random, hitting 43 people and killing 13 of them.
Although many armed students on the University of Texas campus shot back at the gunman, Whitman, an engineering student, was ultimately killed by police officer Houston McCoy, who had to dodge gunfire from civilians firing from below.
Gun violence is a growing problem due to the large number of firearms that are readily accessible to almost anyone in the United States, but school shootings remain very rare although the number of them is also increasing.
So far in calendar year 2022, there have been at least 113 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 41 deaths and 82 injuries nationally.
In 2021 there were at least 202 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 49 deaths and 126 injuries nationally.
Amid widespread closings due to the coronavirus pandemic, in 2020 there were at least 96 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 24 deaths and 43 injuries nationally.
In 2019 there were at least 130 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 33 deaths and 78 injuries nationally.
In 2018 there were at least 105 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 61 deaths and 91 injuries nationally.
In 2017 there were at least 70 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 20 deaths and 47 injuries nationally.
In 2016 there were at least 61 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 11 deaths and 50 injuries nationally.
In 2015 there were at least 66 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 33 deaths and 55 injuries nationally.
In 2014 there were at least 67 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 23 deaths and 49 injuries nationally.
In 2013 there were at least 51 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 27 deaths and 37 injuries nationally.
There is a strong consensus that Americans suffer from so much gun violence because too many firearms are too easily accessible, even to people who should never be allowed to possess deadly weapons.
Squandering $6.5 million is not going to make anyone safer and pretending that it does only leaves more effective methods for safeguarding our children, families and police to gather dust because they are more complicated or require actual leadership skills.
That did not stop a gaggle of toadies from applauding the ridiculously wasteful scheme.
“Given the rise in school shootings around the country, it is paramount that, in addition to having among the strongest gun safety laws in the nation and bolstering mental health services, we also do all we can to protect our students through providing law enforcement and first responders with every available tool that could help save lives,” said Senator Joseph Lagana. “Access to digital floor plans, will better prepare local law enforcement and first responders in the case of any emergency situation. I would like to thank the Governor for pushing this initiative forward and better ensuring the safety and security of our State’s students.”
“Establishing a common operating picture during a potential threat environment scenario is critical for emergency response personnel to do their jobs in the most swift and effective manner possible,” said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco. “I have strongly advocated for the administration of digital mapping technology in our school districts and am glad several Bergen County districts have already done so. But now, thanks to Governor Murphy and his administration, this $6.5 million in funding will allow even more Bergen districts to take advantage of this critical technology, further enhancing the safety of our children and educators at school.”
“This new school security investment will ensure that law enforcement has immediately accessible digital blueprints of every school building in the state, God forbid there is an active shooter situation or other attack. This technology will help law enforcement act quickly and decisively,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer. “And this new investment was made possible by the federal American Rescue Plan that Congress passed last year. It’s hard to think of a better use of these federal resources than to ensure we’re protecting our schools, educators, and children by giving our law enforcement the resources they need to keep them safe.”
Congressman Josh Gottheimer said “It’s hard to think of a better use of these federal resources than to” spend $6½ million on “digital blueprints of every school building in the state” even though it is highly unlikely that there will be an active shooter situation in which law enforcement will need such information, it could be accomplished much cheaper,