Speaker Johnson’s Statement on Vermont School Shooting Threat

16 February 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: Katherine Levasseur
Office of the Speaker of the House
(802) 828-2245

Speaker Johnson’s Statement on Vermont School Shooting Threat

“Two days ago, America was once again shaken by a massive act of violence against innocent children and educators. Yesterday, we learned that even in Vermont, a state looked to as a beacon of safety, hope, and the promise of goodness in America, we faced a similar threat against a school. Thanks to the hard work of our local and state police, the threat was intercepted before tragedy could strike.


This week has been incredibly painful for Vermont families, for Florida families, and for American families. My thoughts keep turning to how much work we have to do in this country, including in our dear Green Mountains, to ensure the safety of all Americans.


Schools are a place of learning, a place to explore and grow and experiment as our next generation walks the path toward adulthood. Children should not be afraid to go to school. We know that too many of our children face the unimaginable stresses of poverty, familial mental illness, and the far-reaching consequences of the opioid epidemic. This is why we took early action in the House this year to advance a bill addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences. We must do everything we can to prevent the stress of gun violence from being added to those experiences. We cannot wait until a shooter is in a school building to respond to the crisis at hand.


These tragedies affect all of our communities and Americans should have the freedom to be safe in our homes, our neighborhoods, in our schools and at work, without the constant threat of gun violence. Despite this, Congress refuses to act. They have been clear about wanting to protect the gun industry. If they believe the problem is in mental health, then it is long past time to have put the resources and a plan for good mental health care, resources, and support in to the hands of our communities. If they think that paying attention to warning signs will save lives, they should properly resource schools with counselors. By taking no action on gun control, mental health, and resourcing schools, they are effectively deciding that it is OK for children to die. It is all of our jobs to courageously speak out and take action, thoughts and prayers no longer cut it.


We’ve heard a variety of root causes of gun violence: irresponsible gun ownerships, mental health issues, and destabilized families. If we think that school shootings are something that needs to be changed, and I absolutely do, then we all need - at the local, state, and federal level - to come up with a plan that fits our values.


I want to be perfectly clear that I support the Second Amendment and Vermonters’ long tradition and history of hunting sports and sensible gun-ownership. Common sense gun laws will free us from the gun violence that threatens our homes and our communities. Stronger gun laws protect our children and keep people alive.


Common sense legislation can help prevent gun deaths, injuries, and crimes in communities across the country. The House passed a Domestic Violence bill last year that protects the safety of women and families by temporarily removing firearms from domestic violence situations. There is also a bill under consideration in the Judiciary Committee that would restrict the sale of “bump stocks,” that convert semi-automatic weapons to military-style automatic weapons.


420 Vermonters died from gunshot wounds in the six years between 2011 and the end of 2016. Numerous Vermont schools have gone into lockdown in recent years. It was just over ten years ago that we in Vermont experienced a school shooting at the Essex Elementary school. Enough children have died. Enough educators have died. It is only a matter of time before tragedy strikes our state again and we must act.”




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