Conklin introduces legislation to fortify school safety
Would mandate providing updated blueprints to local law enforcement
Rep. Scott Conklin May 24, 2023 | 12:39 PM
HARRISBURG, May 24 – On the first anniversary of the Uvalde school shooting – the deadliest school shooting of 2022 and the worst in Texas history – state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, has introduced game-changing legislation to safeguard schools and protect lives as an urgent response to America's escalating gun violence crisis.
"Last year, a heartbreaking record was set in the United States – 46 school shootings, four more than in 2021. This growing epidemic affected 43,450 children, shattering the innocence of their school experience," Conklin said. "Our country stands alone among affluent nations in its exposure to such high levels of gun violence, a reality we can and must change."
Conklin's H.B. 1260 addresses the urgent need to fortify school safety measures in the wake of these grim statistics. The legislation would mandate that Pennsylvania schools provide local law enforcement with updated building blueprints, empowering first responders with critical information to act swiftly and effectively during active shooter incidents.
The bill takes a critical lesson from the Uvalde tragedy, where failures in public safety communication and leadership contributed to a delayed response, exacerbating the devastation.
"This legislation is rooted in those painful lessons," Conklin said. "By providing first responders with access to up-to-date, detailed building layouts, we would empower them to better navigate the chaos of these crises and speed lifesaving intervention.
"From 1999 to 2018, over 187,000 students endured the terror of a school shooting. In just five years, that figure has nearly doubled to 338,000," Conklin said. "Our legislation aims to make one of many necessary changes to reverse this alarming trend, ensuring our children can learn and grow in an environment where safety is a guarantee, not a privilege."
Conklin's legislation is inspired by an effective initiative in New Jersey, where $6.5 million was allocated to create digital maps of all public schools for law enforcement. This model proved that swift and comprehensive access to information is not just feasible but vital in safeguarding schools.
Today, in remembrance of the Uvalde victims and countless other lives lost or forever changed by school shootings, Conklin called on his peers to unite in supporting this life-saving legislation.
"We've witnessed the horrifying repercussions of gun violence in our schools. As legislators, we have the power – and the moral obligation – to act decisively to curtail this grim reality," Conklin said. "Let's honor the memory of the victims, the resilience of survivors and the courage of first responders by enacting this legislation to ensure their sacrifices and efforts catalyze meaningful change."