Uvalde Shooting Renews Debate on Gun Laws, School Safety

Parents who lost a child in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas say they can empathize with the parents of the 19 children killed in Uvalde, Texas.

“The families are now having to go to funeral homes to decide if they want their child in a casket, or to be cremated, or to be in a mausoleum, and it’s just the worst decision,” said Max Schachter, whose son Alex was killed in Parkland in 2018. “No parent should ever have to make that decision. It’s just absolutely horrible. ”

Florida’s lawmakers took action after the MSD shooting by passing red flag laws.

In Florida, a police officer must first file a request with a civil court, citing serious mental illness, or threats a person has made. If the judge agrees, the person must surrender their guns to police.

Tony Montalto, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Gina in Parkland, says there’s bipartisan support for a similar bill in the U.S. Senate, called S292.

“This is vital because it protects the rest of us. It doesn’t infringe on anybody’s rights permanently, but if you’re a threat to yourself or others, they remove the weapons so that you have a chance to get help,” said Montalto.

Schachter is calling on Congress to pass other bills as well, including the Luke and Alex School Safety Act, which is named in honor of MSD victim Luke Hoyer and Schachter’s son Alex.

In response to the Parkland shooting, Florida lawmakers passed the “red flag” law that allows law enforcement to seize guns from people deemed mentally unstable. NBC 6’s Steve Litz reports

He says it would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish best practices nationwide on how to address school safety concerns.

But the bill was blocked Wednesday by Senator Chuck Schumer.

“GOP Sen. Johnson just tried for a bill that could see more guns in schools—I blocked it,” said Schumer on Twitter. “The truth: There were officers at the school in Texas. The shooter got past them. We need real solutions—We will vote on gun legislation starting with the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act.”

Schachter says that’s a misrepresentation of the bill.

“He knows that that’s not true, it’s just a website,” said Schachter. “It’s schoolsafety.gov, which does not mandate anything happen. It’s just a website for best practices and resources. So to say that the bill’s going to put more guns in schools, that’s just not factually correct at all.”

Another bill supported by several MSD parents is the EAGLES Act, which is named after the MSD mascot.

Schachter says it would allow U.S. Secret Service threat assessment team resources to be made available for school districts across the country.