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School safety on the minds of Kentucky’s leaders as Legislative Research Commission meets in Frankfort

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

School security, in the wake of last week’s Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, was on the minds of legislative leaders, when they spoke to reporters following a meeting of the Legislative Research Commission at the Capitol Annex in Frankfort on Wednesday.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the safety of Kentucky’s schoolchildren is uppermost, and wants to get the full story on how the situation unfolded that led to the deaths of 19 children and two teachers, before trying to come up with a legislative package for the 2023 session.

School safety was a topic of concern for legislative leaders who met on Wednesday in Frankfort. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

“We’re hearing reports of 77 minutes before police officers reacted, how this young man got a gun, there are just multiple questions out there,” he said. “Looking at School Resource Officers, making sure our schools are well-protected, and finding the funding for SROs is one of the areas we want to look at, to make sure we have people who are able to deal with situations like that. We also need to understand the mental health component of all the things that took place there.”

House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, concurred with Stivers on the need for funding SROs in every school, which was part of legislation that was enacted earlier this year.

“There are some districts that are still lagging,” Osborne said, “and we can’t lag in time on that. We need to go ahead and make the financial commitments, to do whatever is necessary to protect those schools. We’ve made great strides from legislation passed a few years ago, but we can’t rest on that. We have to make sure the resources are there.”

House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, who is retiring at the end of the year, said lawmakers need to have good solid debate on all the issues surrounding school safety.

“Whether it’s at what age you can buy an assault weapon, who can buy assault weapons, should SROs be armed. Certainly, all the information out of Texas is not before us yet, but it does seem a good guy with a gun can’t stop a bad guy with a gun, so we need to think creatively and collaboratively on how we make schools safer here in Kentucky.”

Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, issued a call for action.

“I am tired of hearing there is nothing we can do when we are doing nothing. This legislature should absolutely look at the Crisis Aversion Rights Retention Order that has been put forward in a bipartisan manner to help people in crisis, by temporarily removing their firearms. It is ridiculous that we have a law that you cannot carry concealed when you are under 21, but if you’re 18, you can buy an assault-style rifle.”

McGarvey is also not seeking re-election, as he is running for the 3rd District Congressional seat being given up by fellow Democrat John Yarmuth of Louisville.

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