Lawmaker calls for hearing on school safety


DOVER — In the wake of the Florida school shooting earlier this month that left 17 people dead a Republican lawmaker is calling for a joint hearing by the House and Senate education committees to examine school safety in Delaware.

Rep. Kevin Hensley, R-Townsend, says that, while the Florida shooting has reignited that national debate on gun control, he is concerned about the immediate safety of schools in Delaware and whether there are some simple steps that can be taken to improve existing safety measures.

“The school tragedy and deaths in Florida raise once again the serious issue of safety in our schools,” said Rep. Hensley in a prepared statement. “The national debate and discussion has started and covers many issues — improvement in the backgrounds checks particularly relating to mental health screening; age requirements for the purchase of various types of guns; and banning ‘bump stocks.’

“All of these subjects have strong advocates on both sides. The answer on what action to take or not will not be decided quickly.

Rep. Hensley said Florida is another “wake-up call” and called on superintendents, teachers, parents, and law enforcement in to join the discussion.

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Kevin Hensley

“Maybe there are some simple steps to improve the existing safety measures,” said Rep. Hensley, a former Appoquinimink School District board member. “Maybe this is more complicated and needs funding to make immediate improvements. If that is the case, we know that we have available — one time money — that could be used for this important purpose.”

Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Newark, heads the House education committtee.

He said last week that he will introduce a school safety bill that will be heard March 7.

“I intend to push forward with a bill to require new school construction and major school renovations here to include bullet resistant glass, intruder alarms and doors with key locks on both sides,” Rep. Jaques said.

Sen. David Sokola, a Newark Democrat who chairs that chamber’s education committee, says he welcomes any conversation on gun safety.

Sen. Sokola also says elected officials have to show the courage to do something about guns before somebody carries one into a school, not after.

Delaware’s legislators reconvene Tuesday.

On Friday, Delaware Gov. John Carney renewed a call for support of a bill that would allow mental health professionals and judges to keep weapons from persons believed to be a danger to themselves or others. The governor also called on legislators to pass a bill that would prohibit the sale of “assault-style” weapons in Delaware.

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