Murkowski backs bill to ID school threats

Sen. Lisa Murkowski discussed school violence in her annual address to the Alaska Legislature in February. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is supporting a school safety bill, one of the first to emerge in the Senate after the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Florida high school. The STOP School Violence bill, co-sponsored by Republicans and Democrats, does not impose gun control. It would allow the Justice Department to give grants to schools to make them more secure and for training to identify threats.

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It’s one of the changes Murkowski told the Alaska Legislature last month that Congress needs to make to help prevent school shootings.

“We know that there’s no simple, one easy answer to these acts of violence,” Murkowski said in her annual address in Juneau.

The STOP School Violence bill authorizes $75 million this year and $100 million annually after that. Not all of that will be new spending. Some will be offset by cuts to an existing program, the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative. That Justice Department program was created in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut. It has provided as much as $75 million a year for research into school safety and pilot programs. The Trump administration called for its demise last month, two days before the school shooting in Florida.

Murkowski does not support proposals to ban assault-style rifles or to raise the age for buying guns to 21. Neither does Sen. Dan Sullivan or Congressman Don Young. Both Sullivan and Young have identified violent video games as a possible factor in the incidence of school shootings.