Last week the Long Beach Unified School District’s Board of Education passed a resolution regarding the prevention of gun violence. Similar to previous resolutions the board has passed (such as last year’s resolution to protect migrant students) the Board’s gun violence resolution was a show of support for state and national bodies the board hopes will pass “common sense” laws.
Most noteworthy in the resolution was the Board’s specific opposition to President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the nation arm its teachers, labeling the idea “counterproductive and dangerous.”
The resolution also advocated for banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and for more research at the state and national levels to fund data-gathering and scientific research in gun violence. More than two decades ago Congress passed an amendment preventing the Center for Disease Control from spending money to “advocate of promote gun control.”
After reading the Resolution, Board Member John McGinnis spoke extemporaneously about the efforts the School District has made to address campus safety. He also encouraged Long Beach students to use the influence of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students in Parkland, FL to take the lead on this issue. Further he referred to a “criminal” lack of leadership from both the Congressional House and Senate in refusing to take up the issue.
Before the resolution was read, speaker after speaker from the public addressed the board to give their suggestions for improving school safety. Most speakers pushed for new fencing and “closed campus” solutions, as well as pushing for the Board to create and adopt an active shooter policy.
While the Board could not address each of those speakers directly, at the end of the meeting board members and LBUSD Superintendent Chris Steinhauser spoke about the efforts to fence in all Long Beach Unified schools that currently are open campuses. They made it clear that while the efforts need to be approved by the State Planning Commission and need to be in compliance with laws (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act), the district has begun the process.
While the meeting was occurring, families in the district received an email from Steinhauser addressing the seriousness of school shooting threats. There have been multiple Long Beach Unified students arrested since the shooting in Parkland, FL because of online threats. So far all of these arrests have been found to be “jokes” but LBPD Chief Robert Luna stated: “The Long Beach Police Department takes all potential threats of violence very seriously and thoroughly investigates all reported incidents. Making any kind of threat whether in person or online, is illegal and has serious consequences.”