you for contacting me about your concerns about tragic events involving school
violence. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
December, the Governor established a multidisciplinary task
force to review school and campus safety in light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The Governor also established a
separate mental health workgroup. The Mental Health Workgroup was tasked with
evaluating Virginia's mental health system to recommend improvements for
identification, intervention, and treatment of behavioral and mental
disabilities with a focus on ways to prevent acts of violence.
wanted to provide an overview of actions we took this legislative session to
provide for school safety and address some of the underlying problems present in
Resource Officer Grant Initiative
our budget the House of Delegates proposed $31 million in new funding for school
security including $1.7 million for the existing School Resource Officer Grant
Initiative and $30 million to create a revolving fund to provide for security
infrastructure projects in schools throughout the Commonwealth so we expand the
school resource officer program we already have in our high schools and junior
highs into our elementary schools. This money was included in the final budget.
Additional funding for the School Resource Officer Initiative was also a
recommendation of the Governor's task force on school safety.
you may know, Fairfax and Loudoun County already have School Resource Officers
in our junior high and high schools and they have been very successful in
identifying problem situations in our schools from drugs to gang activity and
bullying or even human trafficking incidents. This new funding will allow us to
expand the School Resource Officer program to our elementary schools also.
sponsored legislation, House Bill 1609, which would improve coordination between
public four-year higher education institutions, mental health facilities, and
local hospitals. It aims to create a safer and more supportive school
environment to prevent future tragedies. House Bill 1609 passed the House by a
wide bipartisan margin of 99-0, and passed the Senate as well, 40-0. It will be
sent to Governor McDonnell to sign. James Madison University students came by my
office to lobby on this bill. It was their special project as well as their
priority to see this bill pass in the General Assembly this year and I am
pleased we were able to do so.
Virginia's Mental Health
a pioneer in the background check system among states, is a leader in arrests of
people who were stopped from illegally buying a gun. In the wake of the 2007
shootings at Virginia Tech, Virginia developed a database that links mental
health records to databases used in gun sale background checks. The Commonwealth
ranked first among nine states that reported making arrests for one or more
years during 2000-2010, according to the most recent Bureau of Justice
Statistics report on Background Checks for Firearm Transfers. From 1989 through
the end of 2012, Virginia state police have made 12,956 arrests related to the
sale or attempted sale of firearms as a result of denied firearm
number of denials involving felons trying to purchase guns rose from 420 in 2007
to 609 last year. Mental health denials have tripled during that period, from
109 to 340, as Virginia has added more mental health records into its background
check system, which totaled 185,776 individuals in February, 2013.
with mental health issues, such as those committed for treatment or judged to be
mentally incapacitated or incompetent, are prohibited from buying firearms. We
must always remain vigilant in this area and enforce our laws when they are
Penalties and Enforcement On "Strawman" Purchases And Illegal
colleagues and I also passed Senate Bill 1378 which provides that any person who
sells, barters, gives, etc., any firearm to any person he knows is prohibited
from possessing or transporting a firearm under Virginia law is guilty of a
Class 4 felony. The bill also provides that a person who engages in the
"strawman" purchase of a firearm, where he purchases a firearm with the intent
to resell or transport with the intent to resell outside of the Commonwealth to
any person he knows is prohibited from purchasing a firearm, is guilty of a
Class 4 felony and shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of
imprisonment of one year. Status: Passed the Senate on 2/15/13, 39-0; Passed
the House on 2/20/13, 84-11. It will now be sent to the Governor to sign.
School Safety Legislation
are other bills we passed regarding school safety:
Security Infrastructure Improvement Fund and Local School Safety Fund (HB
2343): This bill creates the School Security Infrastructure
Improvement Fund and the Local School Safety Fund, which will be funded with $30
million to help schools improve security infrastructure. Status:
Passed the House on 2/18/13,100-0; Passed the Senate with Amendment on 2/21/13,
38-0. It will now be sent to the Governor to sign.
assessment teams and oversight committees (HB 2344): This
bill requires local school divisions to create threat assessment teams and
oversight committees to assess and oversee school safety threats.
Passed the House on 2/18/13, 78-19; Passed Senate with
substitute with Amendment on 2/21/13, 40-0. It will now be sent to the Governor
incident response training program (HB 2345): This bill
develops a model critical incident response training program so our local school
leaders and teachers know how to respond in the event of an emergency.
Status: Passed the House on 2/18/13, 100-0;
Passed the Senate with Amendments on 2/21/13, 40-0. It will now be sent to the
Governor to sign.
drill practice requirement (HB 2346): This bill requires
every public school to hold two lockdown drill practices each year so students
and teachers understand how to respond in the event of an emergency.
Status: Passed the House, on 2/15/13, 100-0;
Passed the Senate with substitute on 2/21/13, 40-0. It will now be sent to the
Governor to sign.
law-enforcement records (HB 2347):This bill provides that,
in addition to disclosures of juvenile law-enforcement records that may already
be made by chiefs of police and sheriffs to school principals, those same
records (involving violent crimes, arson crimes and firearm crimes) may also be
released by the principal of the school to threat assessment teams established
by the local school division. The bill contains a second enactment clause that
provides that the passage of the bill is dependent on the passage of another
measure still pending before the General Assembly containing language necessary
to the implementation of this bill.
Status: Passed the House on 2/19/13, 94-3; Passed
the Senate with amendment on 2/21/13, 39-0. It will now be sent to the Governor
strengthening both our enforcement provisions and mental health provisions, as
well as providing additional school resource officers and increased penalties on
those who do not follow our laws, we will provide more tools and resources to
work to prevent tragic incidents.
you again for contacting me. I always appreciate hearing from my constituents. I
would also like to invite you to visit my website, www.delegatecomstock.com, to sign up for email
updates and to let us know of your views on other issues that may be of concern
to you. If I may ever be of assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to
contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-772-7168.