By Susan Frederick
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) steps to reduce school violence.
These steps fall into six categories:
- Improvements to school safety.
- Prosecuting federal gun laws.
- Supporting law enforcement.
- Improving information available for firearm background checks.
- Enhancements to department response to public information.
- Technical assistance to states.
The Justice Department also filed a notice of proposed regulation with the Office of Management and Budget to ban bumpstocks and pledged to provide $1 million in emergency grant funding to Florida to pass through to Broward County and other jurisdictions that responded to the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.
Specific actions proposed include increasing the number of school resource officers by permitting the Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program to prioritize grants to state and local applicants that plan to use this grant money for this specific purpose.
DOJ will also provide firearms and situational awareness training to school personnel, as well as crisis training through the National Training and Technical Assistance Center. DOJ also seeks to prosecute cases more aggressively against people who are prohibited from possessing a firearm or who intentionally attempt to bypass the federal background check system.
DOJ asked that all federal agencies certify within 45 days that they are compliant, or that they have a plan to become compliant with federal requirements to submit all relevant records of those individuals who are prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Sessions also called upon states to improve their reporting of state and local criminal justice information to federal systems, and has asked the FBI to identify states and localities that are not doing this. DOJ will prioritize grants to states that have projects that improve accessibility of criminal history records, domestic violence convictions, and information on people who are not permitted to possess firearms for mental health related reasons.
Susan Parnas Frederick is senior federal affairs counsel in NCSL's Washington, D.C., office.