Seventeen people were killed Wednesday at a high school in Parkhurst, Florida when a former student opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. After the massacre, many on social media voiced despair and anger over the lack of legislative action to prevent such atrocities. But, the mother of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting offered a ray of hope on Thursday morning. Speaking to MSNBC, Nicole Hockley described her organization, Sandy Hook Promise, and emphasized the importance of passing two laws that she believes will make a serious difference in America’s gun violence epidemic.
Despite Rhule’s prodding, Hockley did not seem interesting in lingering on her frustrations over the hollow “thoughts and prayers” sent out by NRA-funded lawmakers after mass shootings. Nor did she voice an urgent need to rid the country of guns. “You know, there’s 300 million guns in America – taking guns away is not a solution,” Hockley said. Instead, she was focused on building awareness about two sensible gun laws that need to be implemented.
At the state level, she wants to see ‘extreme risk protection orders’ enacted. These are judge-mandated orders that allow law enforcement to remove firearms from gun owners who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. Such laws are already on the books in California, Connecticut, Oregon and Washington. Nineteen other states are considering similar legislation.
“What it means is when you see a threat, if the school is observing a threat, if a family member is observing a threat, someone who poses a risk to themselves or someone else, then there is a process to temporarily separate them from their weapons until they’re out of crisis,” Hockley described. “Once they’re fine and deemed fit, they can have their weapons back.”
In left-leaning states, extreme risk protection laws will be a relatively easy sell. In more conservative areas, gun law activists are swimming upstream. Historically, after a mass shooting, states have chosen to loosen gun laws rather than implement restrictions on weapons.
The other law that Nicole Hockley and her organization Sandy Hook Promise are pushing for is the federal STOP School Violence Act which was introduced in the House in late January. The bill would allocate funding to states to train school employees, law enforcement and students to identify warning signs and intervene before violence or suicide happens.
“(The bill) is an investment in our kids’ future,” Hockley said. “It is funding for early prevention and intervention programs within schools. It provides funding for anonymous reporting systems so that if a student sees a threat they know how to take it seriously, they understand what they’re seeing. There’s a tool for them to report it. This is funding that we need.”
Hockley said that a lot of money currently goes toward active shooter training and drills, and she argues that we need to funnel resources toward prevention so a troubled kid gets help before he turns into an active shooter.