It was more than 10 years ago when fire drills became mandatory in schools as a result of several fatal fires that paved the way to changing the then existent safety codes. Fast forward to the present day, teachers and students are gearing up for more serious concern – mass shootings.
On the 14th of February 2018, a former student aged 19 went to Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. Seventeen people were killed and several others were injured. Parkland became the center of dialogue in the involving gun violence and school shootings.
In the year following the deadly violence in Parkland, dozens of laws at both state and federal levels were passed in relation to gun violence or school violence.
A wave of activism was joined by hundreds of thousands, with Parkland survivors in the lead, moving to spur action to ensure that gun violence and mass shootings would never happen again.
Listed below are some of the changes in school policies that have occurred since 2018:
Legislative Changes in 2018
About one month following the Parkland incident, Congress passed the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, moving to fund the safety training for students, schools, as well as local law enforcement. This also included crisis intervention and threat assessment teams and anonymous systems of reporting for threat disclosure.
A regulation for banning bump stocks was passed in December 2018 by the Trump administration. Bump stocks allow semiautomatic weapons to maintain recoil control for improved shooting.
The federal government increased funds for safety measures in schools as well in the fiscal budget for 2019.
School safety and gun control policy didn’t only stem from the capital of the nation. In 2018, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence was able to track 1,638 firearm bills, wherein 67 laws on gun safety have been enacted across the District of Columbia and 26 states:
- Policies on bump stocks as well as other trigger activators were made stronger in the District of Columbia and 9 states.
- Seven states, with Florida included, passed laws addressing background checks. Meanwhile, four states constricted the minimum age laws detailing how old someone has to be to own and access firearms.
- D.C., Vermont, and New Jersey passed legislation either increasing or banning penalties for magazines of certain sizes.
- The District and eight states now allow law enforcement, family members, or other members of the community to petition to prevent access to firearms of at-risk individuals.
- In New Jersey and Delaware, there are existing laws on taking away firearms from dangerous individuals due to mental illness.
- Florida is among the 9 states that passed legislation for funding programs on reduction of gun violence in urban areas. The other states include California, Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, and Nebraska.
- Vermont issued a ban on any unauthorized possession of a gun on buses and in K-12 school buildings.
- There are 4 states that expanded laws regarding who would not be allowed to own or buy firearms.
Upcoming Legislative Changes in 2019
The state legislative sessions of 2019 discussed school safety legislation and gun violence. The discussions include the following changes:
- Lawmakers in Arkansas filed some school safety bills like an order for bleeding control training in a public school.
- Florida has seen some proposals on school safety ahead of the legislative sessions. A bill is titled Public Safety Act of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which irons out how frequent schools would need to perform active shooter drills. Some proposals in Florida move to change the rules about gun possession in schools while other Republican senators have moved to expand the law that could let teachers carry guns.
- In Utah, a comprehensive school safety bill moved to revamp the evacuation drills, make threat assessments and support teams and require schools to do climate survey while Wyoming bill could mandate schools to review and develop their safety plans yearly.
- Lawmakers of Virginia, North Dakota, and Maryland filed bills that could secure more funding for the school.
- Kentucky bill pushes more school resource officers, mental health counselor, and school safety training while there are 2 extra bills move for expanding gun control policy. But, another proposal will enable people some concealed weapon licenses for carrying guns in schools.
Changes Regarding Activism
While Parkland is the first school shooting, it spurred one of the biggest waves of activism that surrounds gun violence. Just a few days after the massacre, the student survivors began Never Again movement and devised the plan for March for Our Lives rally nationwide.
A few months after the shooting, students remained in the national spotlight and continued to be advocates for some changes. They have spoken out on interviews, social media, in public forums, and in news outlets.
As part of their activism, celebrities, politicians, and some high profile figures across the country joined the movement and it is played hands in some policy proposals.
While the dialogue around violence and gun control has gained momentum, both sides of the argument are polarized and Democrats and Republicans continually struggle to reach a compromise.
Aside from that, education concerns like school funding and teacher pay, have garnered attention nationwide in which gun control policy hasn’t as it relates to the safety of the school.
Teacher activism has boomed during the previous years with some educators taking part in strikes, walkouts, and demonstrations to advocate for change.
However, while the initiatives such as higher pay, smaller class sizes, and mental health resources have been part of the movement, policy on school safety hasn’t been expressed as the primary focus of the unions of teachers.
Changes in Backpack Regulations
Backpack regulations have changed for many schools since the shootings. For some schools, clear backpacks have become mandatory. If your child(ren) attend one of these schools, we offer the Bulletblocker NIJ Level IIIA Clear Backpack.
For schools that still allow regular backpacks, you may still want to maintain peace of mind by equipping your child(ren) with bulletproof backpack panels such as our line of Tuffypacks Backpack Armor.
For fore information about ballistic protection available for children, you can refer to our guide about Bulletproof Armor for Children.
The best method of protection however is information. Keep your children informed and knowledgeable about active shootings and how to respond when they find themselves in a dangerous situation.
Our article about Preparing your Children for an Active Shooting provides a good basis to start the conversation.