The thoughts that come to mind after another mass shooting are all too familiar to April Schentrup.
“The first thing that comes to mind is here comes another family member who lost a loved one, whose loved one was taken tragically, who thought they were safe going to the supermarket or going to their job, and now they’re not going to come back. Because that’s what happened to us when our daughter went to school,” Schentrup, whose 16-year-old daughter Carmen was among 17 people murdered in the Feb. 14, 2018 Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.
She and Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter Gina also died that day, are guests on the latest Political Party with Adam Smith, and both see practical, popular steps that can be taken to prevent the next gun rampage. They helped found the nonpartisan school safety group Stand with Parkland – The National Association of Families for Safe Schools, and in the wake of recent mass shootings in Georgia, Colorado and California, neither is especially cynical about political leaders taking action that will help prevent the next massacre.
“It’s very important to keep in mind that incremental improvements in safety will get us there. We just have to keep working on it,” said Montalto, president of Stand with Parkland. “We did see the Trump administration ban bump stocks, following the Las Vegas tragedy. We have seen 15 more states plus the District of of Columbia pass red flag laws, we’ve seen numerous changes in many firearms laws.”
Stand with Parkland is a non-partisan group led by Democrats and Republicans, and it focuses on steps that have broad, bipartisan support. It takes no position on banning so-called assault-style weapons, for instance, but does support stronger background checks for firearms purchases, improved mental health services, and more states approving “red flag” laws or extreme risk protection orders that enable family members or police to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from someone who may present a danger to others or themselves.
Effectively implemented red flag laws would have made a difference in the recent massacres in Atlanta and Boulder, Schentrup noted.
“People knew that there were issues with these individuals. They had concerns, and having extreme risk protection orders could have saved lives, not only in Parkland but in other mass shootings.”
Florida legislators passed a red flag law following the Parkland shooting, and it has been used hundreds of times without generating widespread backlash or complaints.
“You have to have a process where the rights of the firearms owner are protected, as well as, though, the safety of the entire community (that) has to be kept in mind,” Montalto said. “We believe in individual rights, we support the Second Amendment, but you need to keep the safety of the community in mind, and that’s something our red flag laws do.”
Congressional priorities for Stand with Parkland this year include improved background checks, promotion of extreme risk protection orders, the Luke and Alex School Safety Act that codifies into law the Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety. In Florida, Stand with Parkland is urging passage of the Parents Need to Know Act that would require schools to notify parents and staff within 24 hours of threats or violence on campus.
Schentrup has a simple request of political decision-makers: “Listen to your constituents. A majority of Americans want the bipartisan background checks bill passed, which means that we just do background checks on all gun sales. Don’t let a few people dissuade you from what the majority of people are wanting when it comes to their own safety.”
Click on the arrow for the full interview.