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School and Community Violence Must Stop: Pennsylvania Legislative Initiatives On the Way
There are no sufficient words to express the tragic loss of life that has occurred in Texas, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and others at the hands of individuals who have no regard for life. These tragedies and others are not only heartbreaking to the families involved, but to all communities across the country. Such events demand us to find ways to do better. That means the political gamesmanship must stop. Addressing gun violence, mental health, gang violence and the root causes of all mass shootings is essential and deserves honest open debate and discussion, not diversion or division generated by either political party.

Recently, it was reported that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted on an assault weapon ban bill. Please let me tell you the truth. The vote that occurred several weeks ago was NOT a vote on any particular piece of legislation as some reports might have you believe. It was a vote whether or not to suspend the rules of the House to allow a vote on a piece of legislation from a sponsor who is no longer a member in the House of Representatives. You see, if the maker of the legislation is not present, discussion and debate is not possible. Suspending rules to avoid a fact-based discussion and debate is a far greater threat to our Democracy than guns themselves. In essence, a vote to suspend the rules would have been a vote to quiet your voice regardless of what side you are on. That Pennsylvania House Democrat-led tactic to push a vote without debate would have set a terrible precedent chipping away at the cornerstone of the democratic process we hold so dear.

I am proud that Pennsylvania is one of a few states that has already taken a proactive stance on and has been a national leader in school safety initiatives, mental health assessment and reporting, which has kept our schools safer. So, don’t let anyone tell you that nothing has been done.

Some of these recent initiatives have included the establishment of School Safety Threat Assessment teams (Act 18 of 2019), School Security Personnel Training and the “Safe 2 Say” Anonymous Tip Hotline (1-844-723-2729) administered by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. This program, which also allows reporting online at www.safe2saypa.org and through an app, provides a private means for reporting potential violent and dangerous situations or issues at our schools before they present themselves to all students. Other initiatives include Youth Suicide Awareness Education (Act 71 of 2014), Bullying Prevention and Awareness Training, Ongoing Student Mental Health Services, School Safety Grants and the appropriations of $200 million to support them.

Additionally, in April 2022, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a number of “Smart Justice” legislative bills. These bills will help make communities safer by requiring prosecution and the strict enforcement of the written laws already on the books.

Take a closer look at school safety legislation and resources in Pennsylvania in greater detail here:

While tremendous progress has been made to stop things before they occur, we all recognize that more needs to happen.

With the added strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath on people’s lives economically, socially and mentally, family disputes are on the rise. And gang violence is escalating. Combined with record high inflation, rising gas prices hitting the pocketbooks of every working family, stress is at an all-time high.

There is absolutely no question that we must make progress, but we must allow for hard discussions on the future of public safety to include addressing the root causes of public stress - and that must occur openly, honestly, frankly and transparently. It’s time to put politics aside, stop shouting at each other, and start working together.
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1005 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 106, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
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Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com