SCHOOL GUN BILL RIGHT ON TARGET

Wednesday, June 17th, 1998

Senators Ron Wyden (D) and Gordon Smith (R) of Oregon have introduced a bill encouraging states to pass legislation mandating detention for any student found to be in possession of a firearm on school premises in violation of federal or state law. S. 2169 would require a period of observation of not more than 72 hours to allow for psychological evaluation and a judicial determination regarding the student’s potential danger to himself or others. States which pass such legislation would receive a 25% increase in federal funding under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974.

“This approach is one we strongly support,” stated Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “Incidents such as the Springfield, Oregon, shooting are rarely as spontaneous as they appear. Kip Kinkel had been sending signals for a long time: to his peers, to his teachers, to his parents, signals that something was going dreadfully wrong in his life. No one read the signals correctly. S. 5169 will ensure that the appropriate professionals are given the opportunity to intervene before a tragedy occurs.”

President Clinton recently directed Education Secretary Richard Riley and Attorney General Janet Reno to develop an “early warning guide” to be distributed to school and other public officials to assist in identifying the “danger signs” that troubled youth frequently send. These signs can be verbal or behavioral. Clinton has also endorsed the Wyden/Smith bill.

“The knee jerk reaction to impose more gun controls in the wake of these incidents fails to address the underlying problem,” Gottlieb observed. “While giving the appearance of doing something, gun control is a band-aid approach to a potentially serious hemorrhage. This legislation goes right to the source of the problem and focuses on preventive intervention at the right point and the right time.”

“It is encouraging to see an effective, bi-partisan approach to the real problem, one that avoids the divisive and polarizing issue of gun control. said Joe Waldron, Executive Director of CCRKBA; “The more we can channel our energy into cooperative efforts such as this, the better it is for gun owners and non-gun owners alike.”