Former U.S. Attorney Tom Marino says there is an urgent need to use state COVID-19 relief funds to make public and parochial schools safer in the wake of the 19 children and two teachers killed in a shooting at a Texas school on Tuesday.
“It’s heartbreaking” he said of the mass shooting by an 18-year-old who opened fire Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Immediate security must be stepped up by using pandemic relief funds to limit such acts of violence in the future, said Marino, who served as Lycoming County’s attorney from 1992 to 2002 and middle district attorney. American from 2002 to 2008.
“We need to start doing our best to protect primary school students and teachers and then move on to middle and high school buildings,” Said Marin.
Pennsylvania received $7 billion and used $5 billion, leaving $2 billion that could be used to start all 500 elementary schools in the state, he said.
Many school districts in Lycoming County are assigned a school resource officer, a certified trained police officer and usually from a corresponding municipality or have a specific officer assigned to the district.
“We need to do more and we have about $2 billion in pandemic funding to start doing that,” Said Marin.
Marino urged state lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration to come together to create an expert panel that could examine efforts to reduce mass school shootings.
Efforts could include reviewing additional teacher and staff training and policies around building locks and other security measures.
Marino urged state officials to use pandemic funds to launch school safety monitoring programs and to increase communication between the administration, law enforcement and parents.
“Parents, in particular, need to get more involved,” he said. “I think we need to look at what our priorities are,” he said. “Start with elementary, move on to middle and high school.”
Governor Tom Wolf responded to the mass shooting in Texas and others.
Following the horrific mass shootings, including at the Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, New York, Wolf on Wednesday called for immediate action by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and congressional delegation to pass goodwill legislation. meaning aimed at preventing armed violence.
“I am horrified by these tragedies and I am angry that our lawmakers continue to fail to address gun violence,” said Wolf. “I urge our General Assembly and Congress to pass common sense legislation that will help stem the tide of gun violence.
“How many more children have to die before we really take meaningful action? How many more mass shootings do we have to witness before we realize the reality that gun violence is a public health crisis that must be addressed? Wolf asked.
“People should feel safe going to school, the supermarket, their place of worship, the mall, the cinema and even outside in their community. . . yet these tragedies continue to occur,” said Wolf.
“Pennsylvania knows the pain of Texas. . . we lost five children in the 2006 mass shooting at a school in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County,” said Wolf.
Wolf said the following basic gun laws should be legislated:
Require reporting of lost or stolen weapons within 72 hours.
Close loopholes and require background checks on all gun sales.
Require safe storage of firearms to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands to prevent accidental injuries/deaths and suicides.
Create red flag laws to protect those who may be a danger to themselves or others.