|Gov. Sununu to NH anti-gun Democrat ninnies: *PTHLBPTHLBPTHLBPTHLBPTHLBPTHLB!*|
Posted by: TEEBONE ® |
Author Profile Mail author Edit
WMUR review: NH rejects banning guns in schools while spending $30 million to ‘harden’ buildings
(This report is another in a series of monthly reviews of issues at the forefront of the 2018 elections for state and federal offices, as part of WMUR's Commitment 2018 coverage.)
The state is spending $30 million to “harden” school buildings against potential shootings, such as the tragic rampages that occurred in Florida and Texas earlier this year. But Gov. Chris Sununu and the Republican legislative majority have rejected efforts to ban guns from school properties.
According to Giffords Law Center, an arm of a pro-gun control group founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1994 bans weapons within 1,000 feet of a school. But the law has little practical effect because it also defers to state laws and local ordinances and does not apply to people licensed by a state or local community to possess a gun.
The federal law also allows firearms to be brought into school zones if they are unloaded and in a locked container or a locked firearms rack on a motor vehicle.
New Hampshire has no law banning people who are properly licensed to carry a gun from bringing one into a school or a safe school zone, which includes any school property or a school bus. State law does forbid students from bringing or possessing firearms, concealed or otherwise, in a safe school zone, and any student who violates the ban will be expelled from the school for at least 12 months.
During the past year, a debate flared in Concord over allowing local communities and school districts from imposing their own bans on firearms in school zones. The issue rose to the forefront in New Hampshire and across the country in the weeks before and after a shooter killed 14 students and three staffers at Margaret Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February.
State Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, sponsored a Senate amendment after several school boards in her Upper Valley Senate district tried unsuccessfully to impose policies prohibiting the public from carrying guns into school property. The districts were told by the attorney general’s office that under New Hampshire law, only the state Legislature can regulate firearms.
The Senate rejected Hennessey’s amendment on a 14-9 vote, strictly along party lines, with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed, keeping in place the ban on locally imposed restrictions. The bill did not proceed to the House.
But in the House, some lawmakers wanted to go further by punishing local school board members who vote to enact local restrictions.
A bill sponsored by Republican Rep. J.R. Hoell of Dunbarton, secretary of the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, would have imposed a $5,000 fine on any elected town official or school board member who voted for a local policy banning guns on public property. House Bill 1749, however, was sent to study on a bipartisan 239-71 vote of the House in February, effectively killing it until 2019.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Molly Kelly said during a WMUR debate in early September that she supports allowing local communities to establish school safety zones. Sununu has said that he believes current state gun laws are adequate and he does not favor any additional restrictions, including banning guns from school and school property and buses.
Sununu backed the Legislature’s initiative in 2018 to provide $30 million for school safety projects. The Public School Infrastructure Fund was established in 2017 and received $30 million of state surplus funds installments of $20 million and $10 million earlier this year.
The state Department of Education, which administers the program, is allocating the money to pay for improvements proposed by local school districts to address imminent danger and health risks, security enhancements and fiber-optic access.
"I would challenge anyone to find another state that is going to deliver improvements to 90 percent of schools," state Director of Homeland Security Perry Plummer said in June. "We take our mandate to assure the safety of school children very seriously."
Plummer did not respond to telephone calls and an email seeking comment for this report.
Among the dozens of projects funded by the program are:
-- Securing the main entrances and building a secure rear main entrance to the preschool program located at Berlin High School for $335,000.
-- Two-way radios, Columbine locks and alarm system upgrades at two Goffstown schools for $37,400.
-- Additional sprinkler coverage, firewall improvements and security camera upgrades at several Keene public schools for about $1 million.
-- Security cameras and security window film at several Hillsborough-Deering School District schools for $278,000.
-- An E911 compliant telephone system, access control improvements and surveillance system improvements at the Milton School District for $139,000.
Meanwhile, Sununu this year also formed a School Safety Preparedness Task Force, which in late June made 59 school safety recommendations covering legislation, mental health, planning, training, exercises communications and facilities.
Among the many recommendations were the establishment of 24-hour anonymous tip lines for students, teachers and parents; a school-based “See Something, Say Something” campaign and expanding mental health resources at schools.
Sununu said that as a result of the task force report, the state would work with school districts to develop threat assessment plans, emergency communications, a process to ensure parent-student reunification following crises, among other initiatives.
The state promised to work with schools and first responders to develop training programs, including “high stress” training for school resource officers and for emergency medical services.
Sununu stressed when the report was issued that one of its most important components was a suggestion to expand social and emotional learning, which is a process to help students manage their emotions, feel and show empathy for others and maintain positive relationships.
“Programs have emerged that can be a tool for prevention not only for violence, but for addiction, suicide and the toxic anxiety that has plagued our school children for too long," Sununu said when the report was released.
But the report, while comprehensive, was criticized by pro-gun control Democrats because it did not address guns and related laws and restrictions. The report said that based on areas “where little agreement was found,” such as recommendations on gun control and gun-free zones, “was beyond the purview of the task force,” which was given 90 days to do its job.
The report said that the task force considered “red flag” legislation and background checks and chose to form “study groups” to examine the issues further.
“Study groups can give these issues the appropriate time and attention they deserve to properly determine if changes in these areas are right for New Hampshire,” the report said.
Kelly said that by avoiding “a serious conversation on gun safety,” Sununu and the task force “failed to do everything possible to keep students safe.”
The state Democratic Party charged Sununu’s directive to have the task force focus on areas of agreement and put off any discussion of guns was due to his “unshakable opposition to common sense gun reform.”
In addition, earlier this week, the state’s congressional delegation announced nearly $1.25 million in federal grants to bolster school safety efforts in New Hampshire from the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to the delegation, the grants include $500,000 to the state Department of Education and $249,762 to Merrimack County to fund violence prevention and mental health training programs in schools, as well as $500,000 to the state Department of Education to develop threat assessment and crisis intervention programs.
“This funding will improve school security and prepare students and teachers to recognize, respond to, and prevent acts of violence,’ according to a statement by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
|Post Reply | Recommend | Alert||Previous | Next | Current page|