Steve King: Columbine is a Lesson We Are Still Trying to Learn
04/20/2010

Eleven years ago today we felt the rage of the Columbine High School massacre, a tragic and forever stinging lesson that we live and raise our children in a dangerous world. Yet advocates for Colorado School Safety worry that if we do not learn from the tragedies of history we are destined to repeat them. It's sad that by many safety experts' observations, Colorado is slow to catch on.

Online PR News – 20-April-2010 – – Colorado State Representative Steve King (R-Grand Junction) released the following statement today, marking the eleventh anniversary of the Columbine High School tragedy in Littleton, Colorado.

"Eleven years ago today we felt the rage of the Columbine High School massacre, a tragic and forever stinging lesson that we live and raise our children in a dangerous world.

"Yet advocates for Colorado School Safety worry that if we do not learn from the tragedies of history we are destined to repeat them. It's sad that by many safety experts' observations, Colorado is slow to catch on.

"If every school in our state had come as far as Jefferson County School District in the last eleven years there would be no need for school safety legislation and less cause for serious concern, yet that is not the case.

"Every day, Colorado parents hug their children, their most precious life's treasure, and send those kids to school, trusting us, 'in loco parentis,' or 'in the place of a parent,' to keep them alive. On February 11, 2010, the State House Education Committee killed a bill that would have mandated safety drills in K-12 schools statewide. The bill was killed on a party-line vote.

"Less than two weeks later, tragedy struck at Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton. A gunman shot and injured two children. Deer Creek is part of a school district currently practicing safety drills. They knew what to do. They locked down the school. They saved lives. Selfless heroes intervened, tackled and restrained the gunman. How fortunate, thanks to drills, students and staff were prepared.

"But what if this shooting had happened at a school that did not have drills? What if students and faculty had not practiced what to do in an emergency? Doesn't each child in Colorado deserve to be safe while at school? The House Education Committee took that opportunity away from the kids whose schools don't practice the lifesaving drills that Deer Creek Middle School does. How can the state that had the Columbine homicides not have life-saving protocols for all of our children?

"This makes so much sense, so why would the House Education Committee kill this common sense bill? In testimony from CASB (the Colorado Association of School Boards), we heard, 'School boards want kids to be safe, but to do a law without having done any research does not seem to be the best way to make that kind of policy.' Another CASB representative said, 'I am concerned that we are passing a bill because someone might not be doing this. We have no research that there are school districts that are not doing it.'

"But testimony from the Department of Public Safety, which would have been charged with implementing these drills, said, when asked if all schools were currently conducting these drills, 'Some districts have pushed out their timing. The furthest out is 3 years. The statute currently asks that they do drills to the extent practical. There is a little wiggle room.'

"Additional testimony from the Fire Marshal's Association of Colorado and the Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association drove home the point that we can have a plan in place, but unless we practice, we are not going to be effective.

"How long do we study and research our children's safety until violent death motivates us? How many children and teachers must be murdered to cause these bureaucrats to act?

"We hear, 'We already do this in schools.' What we have never heard is, 'We already do this in ALL schools.'

"School bureaucrats hide behind the first answer. It protects them from parents with hard questions and a need to know that their children are as safe as possible.

"We will bring this legislation back next year, and the year after, and the year after, until it becomes law, because it is the right thing to do for our kids and their teachers. Innocent lives deserve no less effort, and we will not go quietly into the night.

"Let's put the risk in perspective.
Let's pray it will never happen again.
Let's know it could happen again.
Let's work with all our will and resolve to prevent it from ever happening again."

Steve King
Colorado State Representative
House District 54

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