Today, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee began a series of hearings on legislative proposals to prevent or reduce gun violence, in the aftermath of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December. The hearing was entitled, “What Should America Do About Gun Violence.” Among the featured witnesses were former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, herself a victim of gun violence.
LDF submitted a statement for the record. We highlighted our concern about enhancing police presence on schools grounds as a method to reduce gun violence. Previously, we had communicated to the Administration in a letter to Vice President Biden that law enforcement in schools does not improve safety but instead leads to the criminalization of student behavior, which was traditionally addressed by school officials. These practices have grave consequences for minority students in particular and create tension and alienation in the learning environment. We also indicated our support for an assault weapons ban, although we asked for measures to ensure that persons of color are not disproportionately prosecuted for new weapons offenses, given racial disparities in the criminal justice system.