There have been numerous mass shootings over the last decade. It seems the news cycle focuses on the shooting for about two weeks before moving on to the next big story. Sooner or later, the country turns the page until the next shooting happens and the cycle starts again.
But this time is different. The surviving student body of Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School has banded together to start a movement for change. In just under a week, the students have forced a nationally televised town hall meeting with Florida lawmakers and have marched on the state legislature in Tallahassee demanding action. And even a high-ranking Republican is calling for Congress to do something.
Betsy Devos, the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Education, has called on Congress to start a debate. She specifically and publicly pleads for Congress to begin holding hearings on the issue of gun violence in America. While not calling for any specific policy changes, she urged Congress to have conversations about tracking shooting suspects and addressing the nation’s mental health. And she did it all on an extremely popular conservative talk radio show hosted by Hugh Hewitt.
She seems to have spurned a bipartisan effort to jump-start the debate in Congress. She wants lawmakers to have an actual impact on the future, and Democratic Senator Patty Murray from Washington State couldn’t agree more. She’s publicly agreed with Devos wholeheartedly and has urged Republicans in Congress for hearings on the issue. She added that she is very glad that Secretary Devos has requested hearings on gun violence.
Unfortunately, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has not held such a hearing since February of 2013. It’s been five years since the last hearing on gun violence despite the epidemic of mass shootings in America. Perhaps this bipartisan effort to open the floor to a debate will bring about meaningful change.
There are two Democratic lawmakers on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce that have joined Devos in demanding a hearing. Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and ranking member Bobby Scott (D-Va.) have sent a letter to the Republican chair of the committee demanding a hearing while all other Democrats on the committee backed the demand.
The letter states that more than 430 people have been shot in over 230 school shootings since Sandy Hook which took place just five years ago. The letter was sent to the chair, Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), stating that the committee has not held a hearing since the tragedy at Sandy Hook.
The Democrats may have found an unlikely ally in the demand for a gun safety debate in Devos. However, the shooting took place on her turf — a public high school. She’s been working tirelessly to give students and their families more choice when it comes to education. She’s even appealed to students by making appearances with pop star Pit Bull in Miami. Now her greatest challenge might be keeping the nation’s students safe from the epidemic of gun violence.
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