Sen. Hatch unveils legislation to prevent school shootings with intervention, technology

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of the Utah Senate praise U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, relaying their own personal stories with him from his 42 years in office, as Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, is declared "Orrin G. Hatch Day." Hatch is the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history.

Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch says there is “no panacea” solution to stopping school shootings but unveiled legislation on Monday that would offer funding to states to help prevent violence and boost technology for reporting possible concerns.

Following on the shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead earlier this month, Hatch said there may not be common ground in Congress on how to stop such attacks but that there are some actions that everyone can agree on.

I call on Republicans and Democrats alike to surrender their rhetorical weapons for the good of the nation and the good of our children,” Hatch said on the Senate floor. “All of us must look beyond the horizon of our political differences to find common ground.”

Hatch’s bill, the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act, or the STOP School Violence Act, would offer four pots of money from the Justice Department to states with the goal of detecting and reporting signs of people who may want to harm others as well as training for law enforcement, teachers and students on how to deal with those situations.

The bill would also give money to states to develop technology to anonymously report concerns about fellow students, like a phone app used in Utah that allows people to call or text about what they’ve seen or heard. Hatch said that tip app has stopped 86 school attacks in Utah.

For thousands of families across the state, this simple app made a world of difference,” Hatch said. “Imagine the potential if these kinds of technologies were available to students across the country. We could quickly get help for those who need it, and in the process save countless lives.”

Hatch’s legislation, which he will formally introduce later this week, also calls for funding for school threat assessments and crisis intervention teams as well as more money to help schools coordinate with law enforcement.

Hatch noted in his floor speech that his bill does not address guns but that there is other legislation that would boost background checks — called the Fix NCIS Act and help ensure people who shouldn’t have guns, can’t buy them.

I will be the first to admit there is no single perfect is solution, not the STOP School Violence Act and not the Fix NICS Act,” Hatch said. “But both of these bills can help save lives.”

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