A 21-year-old gunman opened fire in a New Mexico high school killing two students before turning the gun on himself last week.
That incident contributed to a horrifying statistic. There is one school shooting a week in this country -- more than 220 since Sandy Hook, according to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
“When you hear things like, ‘Oh, gun violence, it’s too much we’ve got to do something.’ That’s where I get worried. You can’t just do *something. We’ve been doing something and we’ve been losing,” Boston University School of Medicine researcher Bindu Kalesan said.
Kalesan studies school shootings and reviewed more than 150. In a recent study, she and her colleagues found shootings happen significantly less often in states like Massachusetts, states which spend the most money on K-12 education and mental health services while requiring background checks for firearms and ammunition. She supports nationwide background checks.
“Fix all the loopholes,” Kalesan said. “And have federal level implementation of the firearms as well as the ammunition. Level the playing field.”
State Representative Ruth Balser is not quick to let the state off the hook. The Newton democrat fought hard to successfully reinstate the Safe & Supportive schools grants which Governor Baker cut in 2015. The program gives money to schools for everything from active shooter training and security cameras to social programs.
“We look at bullying in schools,” Balser said. “We look at truancy and other kinds of behavioral problems. By addressing these early, we can prevent violence in our streets.”
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In the fiscal year 2017, nearly 50 school districts applied for $400,000 in grant money for this form of school security. Eighteen won awards ranging from about $2,000 to $30,000. $292,000 in grant money was paid out. It is unclear how the more than $100,000 balance was used.
This is the response from Governor Baker's office.
“The Baker-Polito Administration was pleased to put forward a balanced budget that invests historic levels of funding in education, local aid, and resources to fight substance misuse. The administration also looks forward to the legislature taking action on the governor’s recently proposed legislation aimed at combatting addiction, including a $2 million Trust Fund for Safe and Supportive Schools.”