Blocking The Violence
Sensible Safety Measures for Maryland Schools?
By Peter J. Greenbaum
In the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida February 14, and the passionate debates that followed, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan took steps to reduce gun violence in schools. He announced the state would provide $125 million for school safety enhancements, and $50 million in annual grants, as well as emergency legislation to create statewide standards, including support for common sense legislation.
Maryland banned assault rifles after the 2012 shooting of 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Although the state has been relatively free of mass shootings, gun violence is prevalent in portions of the state.
Said the Governor: “No mom or dad should ever have to worry when they send their kids off to school whether their son or daughter is going to come home safely."
On March 2, the Governor followed up on his initiative by submitting a supplemental budget that will increase funding for the Maryland Center for School Safety. That includes $5 million to enhance safety in Maryland’s schools, $2.5 million for the Maryland Center for School Safety operations, and $2.5 million in grant funding for school safety assessments by the Center.
The supplemental budget is intended to increase coordination among schools, state agencies and law enforcement, as well as keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill and individuals with violent criminal records.
The Maryland Center for School Safety allows authorities to share safety information in near real-time among school security, personnel, administrators, law enforcement, and homeland security staff. These measures also provide technical assistance and training for school personnel.
According to Hogan, government at all levels is grappling with what more can be done to keep children safe.
Adds the Governor: “Submitting this supplemental budget is something we are doing right now, today, to make our schools safer for our children.”
Unfortunately, there is still room for politics as usual.
According to Ian Duncan in a February article in The Baltimore Sun, since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school, the positions on gun issues taken by Maryland’s congressional representatives have essentially shaken out along party lines.
The national conversation over gun control will continue, as will vigorous debate about Second Amendment rights. In the meantime, children and adults in Maryland remain vulnerable to gun violence.