School Safety Legislation Since Newtown
After the devastating school shootings in Newtown, Conn., in December, state lawmakers around the country vowed to act. The mission: devise ways to prevent a similar tragedy.
They came up with hundreds of possible strategies.
An Education Week analysis of more than 450 bills related to school safety filed in the days, weeks, and months after the deadliest K-12 school shooting in U.S. history found that legislators have proposed solutions that include arming teachers, adding guards or police officers, and shoring up the security of school buildings.
The bills included all have a direct link to education, or to the Newtown shootings. So while bills about magazine size and assault-weapon restrictions are included, those involving background checks for gun purchases are not, unless they also contained provisions related to schools. Where the same version of a bill was introduced in both legislative chambers, generally, only one was counted. Read More ▼
In the analysis, Education Week placed each bill into at least one of seven categories. Because some bills dealt with multiple aspects of school safety, they are classified in multiple categories. Just because two bills are in one category does not mean they have the identical goal.
A few proposals proved difficult to categorize, including one Missouri bill that would bar school employees from asking students about any firearms in their homes. And one Texas bill would allow districts to offer high school students elective classes on firearm safety that would teach the history and importance of the Second Amendment. (Education Week decided to place both of those bills in our "School Climate and Student Supports" category.)
The analysis includes trends in how legislatures reacted in different regions of the country, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. The breakdown includes information from four regions of the country (Northeast, South, Midwest, and West) as well as state activity. For example, Connecticut lawmakers were, not surprisingly, very active when it came to school safety bills.
In each of the four geographic regions used by the Census Bureau, "School Emergency Planning" legislation was the most popular category. The numbers below don't represent individual bills, but which categories legislation addressed.
The analysis found that lawmakers in the South introduced the highest number of relevant bills, 188, while Northeast legislators introduced the second-highest total, 107. The West region, meanwhile, generated the least activity, with just 64 bills related to school safety in some way.
- ■ School Emergency Planning
- ■ Police in Schools
- ■ Arming School Employees
- ■ Easing School Gun Restrictions
- ■ Building Safety Upgrades
- ■ School Climate and Student Supports
- ■ Gun Control
Notes & Sources
Education Week labeled bills dead only if that status could be confirmed. The analysis included bills that died because they help illustrate trends in legislation and provide insight into what lawmakers have been thinking.
For the most recent update to our legislative tracker, some bills received a "pending-carryover" designation. This means that the bills will "carry over" from the 2013 to the 2014 legislative sessions, since lawmakers have not taken final action regarding them. Some of these bills will may receive further official consideration, while some will may not proceed any further and will die. In the interactive graphic portion of this presentation, these bills are categorized as "pending."
The National Conference of State Legislatures provided baseline information for this analysis.