Boxer pitches grants, Guardsmen for safer schools

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer today introduced two new bills that she said will strengthen safety at schools by giving state and local officials new resources and tools to help them secure their campuses and protect students.

Barbara Boxer“When our children and our grandchildren are at school, we must have faith that they are safe,” Boxer, D-Calif., said in a news release. “This legislation will help state and local officials protect our children by utilizing all of the law enforcement tools at our disposal.”

One bill – the School Safety Enhancements Act – would strengthen and expand the Justice Department’s existing COPS Secure Our Schools grants program to provide schools with more resources to install tip lines, surveillance equipment, secured entrances and other important safety measures.

The program currently requires a 50 percent local match, but Boxer’s bill would let the Justice Department reduce the local share to 20 percent for schools with limited resources. The bill also creates a joint task force between the Justice Department and the Department of Education to develop new school safety guidelines, and would increase the Secure Our Schools authorization from $30 million to $50 million.

Boxer’s second bill – the Save Our Schools (SOS) Act – would let the federal government reimburse governors who want to use National Guard troops to help ensure that our nation’s schools are safe.

It’s modeled after a successful National Guard program – in place since 1989 – that lets governors use Guardsmen to assist with law enforcement efforts related to drug interdiction activities. Under the new program, Guard troops could help support local law enforcement agencies to ensure schools are safe. The National Guard has said it is “particularly well suited for domestic law enforcement support missions” because it is “located in over 3,000 local communities throughout the nation, readily accessible, routinely exercised with local first responders, and experienced in supporting neighboring communities.”

Boxer said bills like this are only part of a comprehensive response to Friday’s massacre at a Connecticut elementary school; she also wants new gun control laws, including bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as controls to ensure that the mentally ill can’t buy guns.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Constitutional Right

    Seems like it would be easier to allow law-abiding teachers and school principals use their concealed carry permits if they want to. As a parent, I would feel much more comfortable knowing my son’s teacher was discreetly carrying a gun, just in case.

    For that matter, who honestly doesn’t wish one of the teachers had been armed that terrible morning? Sure we could install metal detectors and put guards at every school, but it seems much easier to let schools do this themselves. We do that with fire prevention and it works just fine.

    I would like to see more reporters cover the cases where law-abiding citizens have saved lives by killing the psychopath:




  • Elwood

    I am so embarrassed that Barbara Boxer is one of my senators.

    Every time she comes up with another hare brained idea I cringe.

  • GV Haste

    Less than a week after the incident, Barbara is out their with silly proposals that will do NOTHING to make any particular school safe from some determined killer.
    National Guardmen, standing in the hallway fully armed.
    Oh yeah. And some guy walks up to him with a handgun hidden in his jacket, like he is going to even save even his own life?

    Silly window dressing by numbskull legislators.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Let us have a national conversation, a dialogue, a debate, a teach-in, a candlelight vigil, a pray-in, a teach-in,etc. As for the senator’s proposal, I would feel safer with a posse of vigilant mommies.

  • John W

    The newer schools in the Dougherty Valley have gates. They are not inpenetrable, by any means. On the other hand, you can’t just stroll onto the campus either. However, many of the older elementary and middle schools have open campuses and rows of prefab buildings with classrooms that open directly to the outside. The school where I used to volunteer would sometimes go into lockdown due to a report of somebody in the neighborhood with a gun, or a prisoner escaping from sheriff custody in Martinez while being transferred to and from court. If somebody had plans to attack the campus, I don’t think the lockdown would accomplish much.

  • GV Haste

    As of the school year 2009/2010 there were over 5,699 grammer schools in California.

    There were 2,786,577 children K-thru 5th grade.

    Total California National Guard troops
    I don’t believe any more than 1 in 3 are ever active duty.

    Thus if you took every single active duty guardsman, and put them full time at only grammer schools, you might just be able to station one at each school.

    Of course, you couldn’t just cover certain schools because every school might be at risk.
    Look at Newtown. How many schools in California are safer than that?

    Good thinking Barbara.

  • Constitutional Right

    Senator Boxer has a concealed carry permit and carries a pistol everywhere. So why won’t she support law-abiding teachers and school principals who want to do so as well?

    Of course Senator Boxer will argue she is a high-profile public official, more deserving of protection than a common teacher.

  • Elwood

    @ Constitutional Right #7

    Senator Boxer has consistently demonstrated that she has a very high opinion of herself.

  • John W

    I had heard that Diane Feinstein obtained a concealed carry permit in the wake of the 1978 city hall murders, but never heard that about Boxer. Could be true, though. They probably both get their share of threats, but it’s hard for me to picture a situation where having a gun in their purse would do much good in the event that somebody actually tried to do them harm.

  • RR senile columnist

    John W. you misremembered. DiFi had a bodyguard assigned for her protection. He was armed, she was not.

  • Constitutional Right

    @ John W # 9

    Concealed carry, of course, is no guarantee you’ll save your life or the live of those you love. But it gives you options and that’s a better chance than nothing.

    The alternative to being armed, leaves you with the laughable recommendations of the California Emergency Management Agency in how to respond to an active shooter:

    “• Throwing items and improvising weapons
    • Yelling
    • Committing to your actions” http://www.calema.ca.gov/NewsandMedia/Documents/CalEMA-active-shooter-handbook.pdf

    Does anyone who is being intellectually honest truly believe that “improvising weapons” is a better policy than allowing trained and authorized teachers to lawfully carry concealed if they want to? As a parent, I’d feel a lot comfortable if my son’s teacher was discreetly carrying.

    As for Boxer, of course she doesn’t need to concealed carry at work since she works behind metal detectors and armed guards. The rest of us aren’t so lucky.

  • John W

    Re: #11

    Good suggestions from Cal Emergency Mgt. Agency. Maybe Letterman could come up with a Top Ten list on what to do to respond to an active shooter. Some ideas:

    Remind them Santa is keeping a list of whose been naughty and nice.

    Tell them sticks and stones can break my bones, but bullets can only kill me.

    In your best Tiny Tim voice, start singing Tiptoe Through the Tulips and tell them people pointing guns at you makes you really hot.

  • For Liberty

    A few years ago, Boxer touted gun control immediately upon the death of the four Oakland PD Officers killed on one day (may have been at their funeral or to the press shortly thereafter), as though gun laws would have saved those officers lives. She did this without reminding the public that the killer was a wanted parolee, where laws already existed, prohibiting the killer from not only possessing firearms, but ammunition as well. Don’t be fooled by these politicians.

  • M.D.C.

    I just love all you right wingers. Everything is just so simple. Now that I’m done laughing, let me get this straight. You wanna train and arm all the teachers so they can kill any intruders. This isn’t some John Wayne movie this is life. I’m not going to list all the obvious reasons why this is one of the most moronic ideas you folks have ever proposed. But since you all live in some bizzaro world , I’ll give you the most obvious one…A large portion of current teachers would be unwilling or unable to fire a weapon in a gun range let alone in a life or death situation. So now what, Big Brain? Make the first requirement to teach kids “must have exstensive military training”… Problems like these have many causes and they will require changing the way we deal with these issues….But since this is America
    where we haven’t gotten much right lately. Don’t expect this time to be any different.

  • Common Tater
  • Elwood

    @ common tater #15

    The Israelis do a lot of things better than we do, including airline safety.

  • John W

    “The Israelis do a lot of things better than we do, including airline safety.”

    True to an extent. They rely more on profiling (by people who have the chops to do it intelligently) rather than treating every flyer alike. But what they do is possible because they have only one main airport. I’ve heard aviation security experts say that would be impossible to do their system in the U.S. Nobody would ever want to fly again.

  • John W

    Re: 14

    Well, I had a sixth grade teacher in Kansas who was also a farm wife. She once shot a jackrabbit so that she could remove its heart and hook it up to a tire pump to show us how the heart works. I’m pretty sure good old Mrs. Zielke would have been comfortable being armed. But I agree, most people who are attracted to teaching are not the type who would want anything to do with handling a firearm at school.

  • Elwood

    @ John W #17

    So who wants to fly now, with all the idiotic crap we have to go through? It’s all just theater anyway. Touch your nose, blow on your toes, dance the mazurka and you can fly.

    If it works at one airport, why not any and all airports?

  • John W

    Google: The Jewish Daily Forward Israel’s Airport Security, Object of Envy, is Hard to Emulate Here.

  • Alcoahead

    I still say that my recommendation, made right after this tragedy, makes the most sense and I’m glad that at least the NRA is starting to move in that direction!

    Issue a .22 long rifle derringer to every kindergartener so that they can protect themselves — because the only way you stop a bad guy with a gun, is with a toddler with a gun!

    Far cheaper too! At under $200 per, including ammo, every one of the 55 million school aged children can be covered for under $11 billion, and there are no union pensions or overtime expenses to worry about!

    Plus! Think of all the jobs you can create by requiring that the derringers and ammo be made right here in the good old U S of A! Take THAT, Red China!

  • Alcoahead

    It’s been well over 12 hours since my last comment, and I notice no one is wanting (or daring) to comment negatively on my comments — so I must think that “silence equals acceptance”.

  • Josh Richman

    Alcoahead: Don’t push your luck.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Encourage children to read The Bible. Even agnostics and atheists learn from it. It might even raise language proficiency.