WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — On June 8, U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR) joined Richard Hudson (R-NC) to introduce the STOP II, Secure Every School and Protect our Nation’s Children Act.
According to a press release, this legislation builds on the STOP School Violence Act, signed into law in 2018, to authorize $1 billion for school resource officers, $1 billion for mental health guidance counselors, and $5 billion for hardening schools, providing active shooter training, and ensuring that law enforcement, school officials, and students know how to intervene before a student reaches a breaking point.
The $7 billion legislation is fully paid for with already approved, but unused COVID-19 funds.
Rep. Westerman told KNWA/FOX 24 the legislation would be key to keep students safe.
“I think this is a real solution to the problem,” Westerman said. “It looks at mental health issues, it looks at grants to have more counselors in schools, looks at grants for security officers and school resource officers.”
I joined Rep. Hudson to introduce STOP II, the Secure Every School and Protect our Nation’s Children Act, to provide states the resources they need to address mental health concerns and strengthen school security. The legislation put forward this week by my friends across the aisle is an emotionally charged band-aid that will do little to protect Americans or make schools safer. Preventing gun violence is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Through this bill, we will empower communities to devote resources to the areas where they see need, instead of imposing the weight of the federal government on law abiding citizens who would never engage in violence.Rep. Bruce Westerman
In addition to $7 billion to fund school resources officers and mental health guidance counselors, STOP II, Secure Every School and Protect our Nation’s Children Act closes loopholes in school security by allowing schools to apply under the STOP School Violence Act for grants to complete risk assessments and identify gaps in mental health services for students.
Rep. Westerman said he doesn’t believe gun reform is going to change the outcome of shootings, instead its about preventing them.
“Look at the people that are committing these crimes, they’re obviously breaking many laws when they commit the crime,” Westerman said. “We can’t just take away everybody’s rights trying to focus on a few people who are going to break the law anyhow, so we want to make it harder for people to go in and commit these acts.”
It also codifies a clearinghouse at the Department of Homeland Security to assess, identify, and share best practices related to school safety. To improve emergency preparedness, STOP II requires federal agencies to “continuously update, develop, and provide training materials on bullying and cyberbullying, emergency planning, mental health, and targeted violence to help schools prevent, protect, mitigate, respond to, and recover from a range of school safety threats, hazards, and emergency situations.”
Arkansas Congressman Steve Womack was also an original cosponsor to the STOP II Act.