School safety, gun control at the forefront after Texas mass school shooting

13 News at Six
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The tragic mass shooting that killed over a dozen people at a Texas elementary school Tuesday has sparked conversations locally about school safety and gun control.

While most people agree it was a senseless act of violence, there is no real consensus on how the country should respond.

Rep. Ken Corbet (R-Topeka) said, “I hate for everyone to blame the gun when I think it’s a little more deeper than that.”

Corbet is also the owner of Ravenwood Lodge, a shooting range in Shawnee County. He said in tragedies, like the recent mass school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, people are quick to call for gun control.

“I do not know what other laws you could pass I mean, you cannot pass enough laws to keep everybody safe from everybody,” Corbet added.

Instead, he points to social media and its impacts on mental health as a potential cause.

Corbet said, “I think access to the world at a young age may be more than you can grasp when you do not know what doors you may be opening.”

Fellow legislator, Rep. Annie Kuether (D-Topeka), said as mass shootings increase across the country, gun control measures in Kansas seem to go backward.

“We are making the ages younger to have access to guns, allowing students to have access to guns on campus, which I think is just asking for trouble,” Kuether continued saying, “Unless there is quite a bit of change in this next election in the makeup of the Kansas legislature, I do not see our laws getting any tighter.”

However, both Corbet and Kuether agree schools should be safe and that is something USD 501 Police Chief, Ron Jeanneret, said they prioritize.

“We have Topeka Public School Resource Officers in the high schools and in the six middle schools, then we have four officers that rove the district throughout the day,” he said.

Jeanneret said many of his officers are retired Topeka Police Department officers, including him, and are all well trained.

“We have numerous years of experience in handling all different types of situations,” he added. His message to district families is - “We are taking all and every necessary step to keep everyone safe at this school district.”

USD 501 said they have a mass shooter training scheduled for their officers later this week. They said it was planned prior to the tragedy.

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) also weighed in on the issue.

“What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy and I condemn all violence,” he continued saying, “I’m personally devastated to hear of the young lives lost and I will mourn for the loss of these precious lives and mourn with all the families going through this incredibly difficult time.”

The senator’s team said he has personally supported several measures to help secure schools, like the STOP School Violence Act providing funding for schools to identify threats, and the Fix NICS Act that strengthens the background check system by offering federal funds for states and federal agencies to improve reporting of criminal records to NICS.

They said Marshall has also introduced legislation that would encourage responsible gun ownership by offering tax incentives to Americans who take firearm safety courses and invest in securing their firearms.

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