The father of a student who was killed in the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, is asking law enforcement organizations to develop national standards and best practices for school safety.
Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son Alex was killed in the Feb. 14 school shooting, has established an organization to honor his son and improve school safety, the Safe Schools for Alex Foundation, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
At a news conference Wednesday in Washington, DC, Schacter announced that the Foundation is working with some of the nation's leading law enforcement organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the National Association of School Resource Officers, the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, the National Sheriff's Association, the National Tactical Officers Association, the Major Cities Chief Association, and the Indiana Sheriff's Association.
"Nothing is more important than the safety of our schools…and making sure that our children come home safely every day," says Louis Dekmar, president of the IACP.
Earlier Wednesday Schachter met with top officials from the FBI and the Department of Justice as well as more than 50 state and local law enforcement officials and school security experts. That meeting was held at FBI headquarters.
Schachter's voice quavered with emotion as he showed the group a photo of his murdered son," the Sun-Sentinel reports.
"Unfortunately, the next monster is already out there," he told attendees. "We're going to make a difference, we're going to save children's lives.
His speech brought everyone in the room to a standing ovation as he urged government, education and law enforcement to make schools harder for offenders to penetrate by increasing security measures, including bulletproof doors and ballistic-resistant glass.
Attendeers say they plan to come up with a list of “best practices” to combat school violence and try to prevent future mass shooters from targeting schools.
In Florida Thursday a group of parents and relatives of the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, launched a nonprofit group to push for stricter gun laws, increased school security and mental health intervention to prevent school shootings.
April Schentrup, mother of Parkland victim Carmen Schentrup, 16, said the group—Stand With Parkland—is likely to back universal background checks, raising the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21, installing metal detectors and armed guards at all schools, and taking guns away from the mentally unfit. In an announcement of the group's formation, it called violence in schools "an American epidemic."
Word of the political nonprofit's formation drew a quick response from the National Rifle Association.
"Let’s be clear — there are many Parkland students and families [who] want to focus on school safety and reject holding that important goal hostage to the politics of gun control," Chris W. Cox, director of the NRA's lobbying arm, said via email. "Making it more difficult for law-abiding adults to exercise their constitutional right to self-defense will not improve public safety."
Unlike student groups from Parkland, Stand With Parkland isn't girding for war with the NRA, a member told NBC.
Tony Montalto, father of Parkland victim Gina Montalto, 14, said in an interview that the idea is to find common ground for the children's sake. "We're trying to energize the middle," he said.