Wyoming’s congressional delegation called for the protection of the Second Amendment and local control in school safety in the wake of two mass killings in American high schools.
Casper’s elected city and school board officials have repeatedly discussed school safety since Feb. 14, when a gunman killed 17 people in Florida. They’ve discussed arming staff and hiring more school resource officers to better protect the Natrona County School District’s buildings.
The discussion gained new intensity after 10 more people were killed in a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. City Councilman Dallas Laird offered to buy the district metal detectors and floated the idea of raising taxes to fund more officers.
Meanwhile, discussions in Washington, D.C. have been broader, more philosophical and more contentious. President Donald Trump has suggested a number of solutions to the scourge of killings in American schools, including arming staff and sending veterans to protect schools. His opponents have called for better gun control.
Meanwhile, a federal commission on school safety will not look at the role of firearms in school shootings. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said earlier this week that was not within the scope of the commission.
In statements to the Star-Tribune, Wyoming Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi and Rep. Liz Cheney all spoke against any restrictions on Americans’ Second Amendment right to own a firearm.
“When these attacks happen, people want immediate action to prevent such a heinous act from ever happening again. There are those who use these attacks to push for more laws, but I urge caution,” Enzi said, calling the recent shootings shocking and heartbreaking. “ ... We can take sensible steps without removing the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
None of the three lawmakers was available for an interview. The statements were sent in response to a list of questions from the Star-Tribune.
All three spoke in favor of local control over school safety. Barrasso spokeswoman Laura Mengelkamp wrote that “(i)t’s ultimately up to state and local officials to decide which proposed school safety measures they support in their individual communities.”
Cheney’s spokeswoman, Maddy Weast, wrote that the congresswoman is working with State Superintendent Jillian Balow to do “everything possible to ensure ongoing federal” support.
Cheney voted in favor of the bipartisan STOP School Violence Act, which passed the U.S. House earlier this year and would distribute $50 million in federal grants nationwide to improve school safety.
Enzi and, through Mengelkamp, Barrasso said firearms should be kept away from criminals and the mentally ill.
In Natrona County, the school district has unveiled a wide-ranging plan — covering data collection to instructional programs — to address school safety.
City and school officials have also discussed hiring more police officers to work in local schools. Currently, two officers are responsible for the entire school district. School officials have discussed doubling that figure and some on the City Council have expressed support for increasing the number of officers to six.