In 2 weeks, teachers, students, alumni and friends of Northern Illinois University will gather to commemorate the 1-year anniversary of the tragic shootings that occurred at the university's campus. As you may recall, on February 14, Valentines Day 2008, a gunman stormed a classroom at NIU and opened fire, killing five students and wounding 16 others before killing himself.
Later this year, in April, similar groups of individuals associated with Virginia Tech will commemorate the 2-year anniversary on that campus shooting that killed 27 students and five faculty members. We now know that the shooter was a mentally disturbed individual who was able to purchase two handguns in any event. He brought those handguns to the campus and began a shooting spree that spanned several hours and occurred in both dormitories and classrooms throughout the campus complex.
As we remember the tragic shootings at Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech, and think of the violence that occurs in public schools across the country, it is appropriate for Congress to act and provide resources to schools and law enforcement officials to help protect our greatest resource, and that is our children in our schools. School and college campuses should be safe environments for all students to learn. Today, campus security requires much more than ever before, including the campus police, emergency alert systems and emergency response plans.
H.R. 748 authorizes the Department of Justice to establish a National Center for Campus Public Safety to award grants to colleges and universities and other nonprofit organizations. It also provides education and training for campus public safety agencies, and promote research to improve the security of colleges and our universities.
The center may coordinate with other Federal agencies to prevent and respond to natural disasters, incidents of campus violence or even other emergencies. The center also may promote the development of an effective behavioral health threat assessment to prevent campus violence.
In the 110th Congress, Chairman Bobby Scott and ranking member Louie Gohmert of the Crime Subcommittee worked together to cosponsor a version of this bill, which was passed by the House on a voice vote. The Senate was unable to take up this bill last year, so many of my colleagues reintroduced the bill this term. It is my hope that the other body will consider and pass this legislation during the Congress.
Through this legislation and other programs across the country, we can endeavor to prevent violence on our college and university campuses. And I urge all of my colleagues to support the passage of H.R. 748.
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