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Columns : The Federal Voice

Protecting the Children

We can make schools safer without infringing the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.

February 20, 2013  |  by Jon Adler

Photo courtesy of Jon Adler.
Photo courtesy of Jon Adler.

I think we all agree that our collective priority is protecting our children. They are completely dependent on us for protection, and our schools should be treated as sacred ground. In response to the Newtown tragedy, FLEOA was asked to participate in the Vice President's Task Force on Dec. 20.

During the meeting, I expressed the view that a unified nonpartisan approach was essential, and the group should focus on what can realistically be accomplished. The vice president disagreed with the latter part of my view. Nonetheless, I stated that FLEOA was not currently taking a position on the proposed reinstatement of the Assault Weapon Ban since our membership is divided on this issue. I stressed, instead, that the group should focus on using all assets to assess school vulnerabilities. I expressed the view that the Department of Homeland Security could commit its assets, including the Secret Service and Federal Protective Service, to assist.

In addition to making tactical recommendations, I also discussed two legislative points: First, the idea of amending Title 18, USC S922 (q)(2) [carrying an assault weapon in a school zone], and Title 18, USC S922 (x)(1) [selling a gun to a minor], elevating both from a misdemeanor to a felony. Regarding the first statute, anyone caught illegally possessing an assault weapon within a school zone (1,000 feet) would be subject to a felony. This has nothing to do with a law-abiding citizen owning an assault weapon. The only persons possessing assault weapons within a school zone should be law enforcement officers (or LEOSA certified retired officers).

Regarding the second statute, I recommended changing the language to include the word "knowingly" and elevating it to a felony. The goal is to keep firearms out of the hands of minors. Law enforcement would have to prove that someone "knowingly" sold, transferred, or delivered a firearm to a minor to be charged with this statute. The statute is now a misdemeanor and doesn't say "knowingly."

On the tactical front, I also recommended that the federal government work with state and local counterparts to ensure a uniformed officer (or LEOSA certified retired law enforcement officer) be assigned to every elementary school. Aside from the obvious, the purpose of having an experienced law enforcement officer assigned is that it would allow our first responders vital additional seconds to arrive on scene and engage the lethal threat.

Additionally, I expressed written recommendations to strengthen the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives' operating capabilities to automate the Tracing Center and improve state efforts to provide the ATF with data on applicants with documented mental health issues. The ATF also needs either a permanent director or one made via a recess appointment.

The vice president specifically tasked me with providing him with a list of recommendations that would better protect our children in schools. In response, FLEOA recommends the following to the vice president:

  • Direct the National Threat Assessment Center to update its "School Shooter" study and make immediate recommendations to law enforcement.
  • Commit Secret Service and Federal Protective Service assets to working with state and local counterparts to perform vulnerability assessments and recommend practical security protocols for schools to follow.
  • Designate funding to support state and local governments in providing a uniformed law enforcement officer (or LEOSA certified retired officer) at each school.
  • Support funding for providing all teachers with an emergency alert PDA or app that would allow for immediate covert communication of a crisis. The PDA/app would function as a transmitter/open line, and also provide critical GPS data.
  • Ensure all state and local components have access to school building schematics, with capability of transmitting them to first responders on scene.
  • Create a "School Safety Inspector" position for all elementary schools, and have this individual conduct assessments of a school's compliance with basic security protocols.
  • Provide uniform guidance to school officials regarding conducting scheduled emergency evacuation or lock-down drills.

FLEOA does not support anyone using the Second Amendment as a scapegoat for the Newtown tragedy. Instead, FLEOA is recommending a Safety Summit that includes law enforcement, the NRA, and legislators. All parties should be locked in a room until they come up with practical solutions to better protect our children. 

Comments (10)

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10

Billy @ 2/26/2013 10:25 PM

Bravo...glad to see the FLEOA is not "caving-in" to politics like the FOP and is taking a sensible stand on school safety.

John @ 2/27/2013 1:17 AM

Biden doesn't give a rats ass about protecting children. He would rather focus on restricting the rights of responsible firearm owning adults. I remember Biden being anti gun in the 80's, which was long before the school shootings.

FCop @ 2/27/2013 3:22 AM

I too am glad to see the FLEOA representing the membership rather than playing politics. I am a fed, and an FOP member, and have been let down over and over by our union. Another consideration for school security could be those of us who have children in the schools and would be willing to volunteer a couple days a month to be in the school. I would certainly give my time if the agency and local government could get through the liability and training issues. Toss out a federal grant, get the locals to train "volunteers" to their standards, and take advantage of the volunteer pool.

Thank you again for doing the right thing.

RumbleTruck @ 2/27/2013 4:42 AM

In addition to making tactical recommendations, I also discussed two legislative points: First, the idea of amending Title 18, USC S922 (q)(2) [carrying an assault weapon in a school zone], and Title 18, USC S922 (x)(1) [selling a gun to a minor], elevating both from a misdemeanor to a felony. Regarding the first statute, anyone caught illegally possessing an assault weapon within a school zone (1,000 feet) would be subject to a felony. This has nothing to do with a law-abiding citizen owning an assault weapon. The only persons possessing assault weapons within a school zone should be law enforcement officers (or LEOSA certified retired officers).

Since when have "gun free" zones protected anybody? NEVER. The '94 - 04' Assault Weapon Ban did noting to reduce crime.

FLEOSA should focus on criminal justice reform (keeping violent felons in prison), mental health reform and improving school security - the "carrying an assault weapon in a school zone law" is worthless.

Jerry Lavach @ 2/27/2013 9:09 AM

I agree with many of the proposed suggestions mentioned but have a problem when we start restricting guns of very ambiguous definitions from within certain distances of schools. What is an assault rifle? Based on what I have heard, anything that looks "military or evil" is an assault rifle according to most politicians and high profile people who have no clue what they are talking about. They may be well meaning, but are ignorant to real facts or choos to ignore the facts.
Creating safe zones is an oxymoran. Safe zones create greater danger for our children because they are assumed to be safe. What about Columbine, VA tech, and now SandyHook. Crazies and terrorists don't pay attention to safe zones.
One Thousand foot safe zone from schools? How do you deal with the home owner who lives across the street from a school and just happens to own an AR15, mini-14, M1A1, or other legal weapon? Is that person now a felon because of where he or she lives? What about the person going from home to a gun range or hunting area that has to drive near a school? Let's be reasonable and realistic.

Ja Tu @ 2/28/2013 9:40 AM

Were all wasting our breath trying to force common sense into a debate about guns started by liberal politicians, this is not about saving lives, this is about pushing a long standing anti-gun agenda...period.
Do you really think if they got all the gun ban agenda they want to pass right now that in a few years when the next tragedy happens they won’t try to pass more anti-gun laws? Do you really think they just want to get assault weapons banned and then they will be happy? No, of course not, they will continue to pass bill after bill year after year until even BB guns are illegal to own...that is their ultimate agenda.

Greg @ 3/15/2013 7:17 AM

I'm disappointed he kept using the incorrect "emotional" term of ASSAULT WEAPONS. These aren't assault weapons, they're semi-auto rifles, usually varmint level calibers not even allowed for hunting large game (e.g. too light for deer hunting).

The trained lapdogs (Bloomberg's neutered Chiefs of Police) all support the dems hatred and distrust of citizens (both seem to prefer them as serfs) all whine about evil assualt weapons and there are now even pathetic military generals flapping their hands about evil civilians not being able to own these horrors of the battlefield.

How sad the courage to admit what it really going on seems to rare amongst some groups who know better. It's the citizen who will come to the aid of officers in need, not a dem politician who really doesn't like them anyway.

Alicia Jenkins - Middleto @ 3/19/2014 6:42 AM

I am trying to contact a Jon Adler, he was a classmate of mine and a football player. We graduated from Bryant H.S. in 1984 and planning a 30 year reunion. Jon was bestest buddy and so longing to reconnect. If this is that Jon, (my Jon), please give him this message.

Alicia Jenkins - Middleto @ 3/19/2014 6:44 AM

My name is Alicia Jenkins and I am looking to connect with Jon Adler. We were classmates, I a cheerleader and he was a football player. We graduated from Bryant H.S in 1984 and planning a 30th year reunion. If this is the Jon, please give him this message as I would love to reconnect with him. To help remember me, I dated his football friend Wayne (Panda Bear).

Longarm @ 1/3/2015 12:16 AM

People, especially LEO's should call "Gun Free Zones" what they really are - Free Fire Kill Zones. Think for a second why all these lunatics keep targeting schools. What is the ONE place they KNOW for certain they will not encounter a law abiding citizen armed with a concealed weapon? A SCHOOL.

There was a study done by an association of police chiefs of america that showed that in more than 50% of active shooter situations, the situation is resolved before police even arrive, and in 48% of those, the shooter was stopped by a civilian, often a ccw holder employing their firearm.

Wake up to the reality that gun bans and so called "Gun Free Zones" are totally worthless and counter productive, because all they do is remove the danger for an evil person intent on murdering innocents by taking guns out of the hands of decent law abiding citizens who could otherwise stop them.

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