By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones announced Monday that he would co-sponsor legislation that would train schools to detect early warning signs of potential violence.
The bill would allow for government grants to fund programs to train school officials, law enforcement and students in detecting early warning signs of violence in a school. It would also allow grants for anonymous reporting systems and other security measures.
According to the bill’s sponsors, short-term funding for reactive solutions, like metal detectors, has been a theme for the response to mass shootings in the past. This bill would establish long-term funding for proactive solutions.
Grants from the Department of Justice would fund the programs prescribed in the bill.
The bill, a bi-partisan effort among senators, is a response to a mass shooting at a Florida, high school that ended with 17 dead and 14 injured. Jones, in a statement, said that lawmakers had no “higher responsibility” than to protect children.
“This commonsense legislation is a first-step towards ensuring tragedies like Parkland, Florida are prevented by providing faculty and law-enforcement with the tools they need to identify warning signs and stop attacks from happening in their schools,” Jones said.
In Jones’ home state, however, a new plan is moving forward spearheaded by state Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville, that would arm educators. Ainsworth, who is running for lieutenant governor, filed the bill in the Alabama Legislature after the Parkland shooting.
It would allow for certified educators to carry a concealed weapon.
The bill faces a Legislative Session that is nearing its end, and lawmakers in the Legislature are concerned with the legal implications it would bring. Specifically, the debate has centered around the liability of if a student got a hold of the gun.
In response to the bill, Jones said the idea of arming teachers was “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard” in a local television interview.