|WASHINGTON — President Obama today announced 23 executive actions and proposed legislative action stemming from Vice President Biden’s Gun Task Force.
- Closing background check loopholes: requiring background checks for all gun sales and strengthening the background check system
- Reinstating the ban on military style assault weapons and banning high capacity magazines: includes allocating money for more gun violence research, protecting healthcare providers who reveal patients that are potential killers and encouraging gun owners to store guns safely
- Making schools safer: putting 1,000 more resource officers and counselors in schools and help schools invest in safety by insuring every school as a comprehensive emergency management plan
- Improving mental health services: making sure students and young adults get treatment for mental health issues and ensuring health coverage for it
The ACLU had this reaction to the President’s announcement:
“Many of the presidential actions announced today are thoughtful, and the ACLU is assessing all of the proposals that have been put forth. We have several concerns about the administration incentivizing police departments and school districts to put more police officers in schools,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “We fear that neutral sounding safety policies, such as putting more cops in school will lead to the over-incarceration of school-age children, especially students of color and students with disabilities, who are disproportionately arrested and prosecuted for issues that would normally be handled by school administrators when law enforcement is introduced into schools.”
The ACLU urges both Congress and the administration to put in place active measures to insure non-discrimination and to protect the civil rights of young people, otherwise the results could be devastating. Schools should be encouraged to use funding for efforts that proactively improve learning opportunities and school climate for all students, such as training for teachers, additional counselors and health professionals, and more evidence-based programs to support students.
“Teachers and administrators should have the ability to teach and to retain primary control over the punishment of students,” Murphy stated. “Despite the president’s best intentions, funding more police officers in schools will turn sanctuaries for education into armed fortresses.”
More information on the ACLU’s concerns can be found in our letter to Vice President Joe Biden here.