Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t think that there’s much the federal government can do to ensure school safety “other than appropriate funds,” according to a report by The Lexington Herald-Leader.
In discussing school violence in a speaking engagement with community leaders on Tuesday in Danville, Kentucky, McConnell pushed for more school security as opposed to more gun control legislation, the report said.
“You would think, given how much it takes to get on an American plane or given how much it takes to get into courthouses, that this might be something that we could achieve, but I don’t think we could do that from Washington, I think it’s basically a local decision,” said the Kentucky Republican, who is a staunch Second Amendment advocate.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, McConnell — who has previously said more can be done at the state and local levels — said at the event that he thinks school security is the most likely way that schools can stop shootings from occurring.
“It’s a darn shame that’s where we are but this epidemic is something that’s got all of our attention,” McConnell said of recent school shootings. “And I know it’s got the attention of every school superintendent in the country.”
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was murdered in February’s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, blasted McConnell over his remarks.
“Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, you are demonstrably wrong. You are either lazy, do not care, or simply evil. You can’t do anything when you do not try and you have failed,” he wrote.
Asked to comment on the report, Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, pointed to a measure passed in March as part of a spending package that incentivizes state and federal authorities to report more data to the country’s gun background check system. The bill also provided funding for “threat assessment and crisis intervention programs” as well as grants to train students and school personnel to identify threats, Stewart said.
Calls for greater gun control frequently arise in the wake of mass shootings. Following the rampage in Parkland, McConnell called on the Senate to try to make progress on “bills we agree on.” However, in March, McConnell pushed gun legislation to the back burner as the Senate turned toward banking legislation. The Senate hasn’t moved forward on any gun control laws since then.
In the face of federal inaction, several states have turned toward tightening up their gun laws. On Tuesday, Massachusetts became the latest state to implement a “red flag” law, a law which allows police, family members and dating partners to request that firearms be temporarily confiscated from someone suspected of posing a risk of harming themselves or someone else.