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Rep. Brat Statement on School Shootings and Enhancing Security

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WASHINGTON, February 27, 2018 | Juliana Heerschap (202-225-2815) | comments
WASHINGTON - Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) issued the following statement in light of ongoing investigations into the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

“As a nation, we continue to mourn with the families of the victims and survivors in Parkland, Florida. As we process the feelings of horror and anger in the immediate aftermath of such an unspeakably tragic event, it is important to have a civil and constructive dialogue about what our public policy solutions should be. This was a senseless act of carnage that led to the loss of young, innocent life. As a former educator and the parent of a public high school student and public college student, I cannot imagine the grief these families have endured. My family has been praying for them ever since we first heard the tragic news.

“We have waited to fully assess potential solutions until more of the basic facts of the case were in. And now we see fairly clearly that there were catastrophic system-wide failures. In these ongoing investigations that are both dependent on the facts and emotionally charged, it is always best to wait for the evidence in order to analyze the causes and solutions as they are intimately related.

“We live in a society where online threats must be taken seriously. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported 9200 threats to schools in the Commonwealth alone.

“Many threats existed leading up to the Parkland shooting as well. I’m heartbroken to know this could have been stopped had the FBI tip line staff, local law enforcement, and the school resource officer done their jobs. It is clear this young man never should have been able to purchase a gun. Despite being tipped off multiple times, individuals at the FBI failed to act. There are alarming news reports that the Broward County law enforcement had 39 calls related to this killer, that his home was visited multiple times by law enforcement, and that he was on psychiatric drugs. The shooter’s mother had just passed away, and he told officers he was dealing with some “issues.” He was also posting disturbing and scary videos to YouTube and Instagram. Every single red flag was raised, but no data was shared. Then armed Sheriff’s Deputies failed to enter the school and engage the shooter. There were multiple missed opportunities for law enforcement at every level to take action and to prevent this tragedy. The system broke down.

“The facts are that mass shootings take place in gun free zones 98 percent of the time. We should be doing more to protect our schools and our future generations. We cannot overlook the cultural influence of violent video games and movies that are molding the minds of young adults. And we also must recognize the isolation that too many kids feel as a result of broken families and absent parents. To their credit, the Parkland students knew this, and reported their concerns to officials who failed to protect them.

“I will be looking for ways to positively contribute to this national discussion and real world solutions. I will be traveling my district listening to all stakeholders. I want to identify what is necessary to stop these criminals and keep our kids and schools safe.

“I want to be clear that while I am not supportive of taking anyone’s Constitutional rights away, individuals on both sides of this debate are going to have to listen and think through these difficult issues together. In the coming days I will be meeting with representatives from local law enforcement, the mental health community, security specialists, parents, teachers, counselors, and school leaders to listen to their input and suggestions.

“We must ensure the best technology and security measures are in place; insist on accountability from the FBI to ensure credible threats are investigated; red flag parents and other key stakeholders who can help identify mental health and other threat scenarios; and update and modernize our background check system to ensure all of the relevant material is included. There are ongoing threats to Virginia schools and we have to address this reality head-on.”
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