TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Monmouth) wrote an op-ed for The Asbury Park Press Monday calling for action on a ten-bill package she introduced with Assemblywomen Nancy Munoz and Holly Schepisi.
To make schools safer, focus on classrooms, not guns
By Serena DiMaso for the Asbury Park Press.
We could and should be doing more to protect our school children because every child deserves the right to learn and go to school without fear — free from fear that a Parkland or Newtown tragedy might hit their hometown.
Education Week, which has been tracking shootings on school property that resulted in firearm-related injuries or deaths, reports there were 24 such incidents in 2018 and eight so far this year. Thirty-six lives have been lost and almost 100 people have been injured while New Jersey’s legislative leaders have done nothing to further ensure our children feel safe, and more importantly are safe, when they go to school.
My bills are based upon recommendations from the New Jersey School Security and New Jersey SAFE task forces that were created in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which killed 20 children and six adults. Both task forces were comprised of respected experts in various fields — legislators, government officials, education leaders and law enforcement. They were charged with identifying potential physical and cyber security breaches, investigating the root causes of mass violence, and proposing school safety measures.
These are commonsense recommendations like creating a platform to share best practices, improving emergency communications, ensuring that police officers, students and staff have the proper training, and requiring ID cards at all times in schools.
When it comes to improving school safety, it seems like the only thing the legislative majority wants to talk about is more gun control. But New Jersey is already among the strictest states in the entire nation when it comes to gun laws.
More gun laws won’t help. If they did, why has California, which has the strictest gun laws in the nation, had the most mass shooting deaths since 1982? Why does Baltimore have the highest per capita homicide rate and a reputation for being the most dangerous city in America, despite Maryland having some of the strictest gun laws in the nation?
Their efforts for more gun control, while well-intended, are misguided. They should focus on firearm safety, education and suicide prevention. They should be moving on simple expert-suggested measures, like my 10-bill package.
Many of my school safety measures are low-cost or even no-cost opportunities. They will increase school security without burdening taxpayers.
Gun control is a hot-button topic with strong beliefs on both sides of the aisle. What should not be up for debate is the safety of children. Let’s come together to protect the rights of New Jersey’s over 1.4 million schoolchildren. They have a right to learn in a safe place.
Serena DiMaso is a Republican assemblywoman in the 13th Legislative District in Monmouth County.