Loudoun School Board Adopts Gun Violence Prevention Resolution

A divided Loudoun County School Board on Tuesday adopted a resolution on gun violence prevention penned by member Joy Maloney (Broad Run).

After a lengthy debate—including consideration of an alternative resolution introduced by Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles), which was amended to include several passages from Maloney’s resolution and then voted down—the board voted 5-2-2 to approve Maloney’s resolution, with Eric DeKenipp (Catoctin) and Debbie Rose (Algonkian) opposed, and Morse and Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) abstaining.

“I think that we’ve seen over the last few weeks, months, that as much as we as advocates and leaders are feeling cynical that anything will get done, our young people are ready to take up that charge and continue, and they are not cynical,” Maloney said. “They believe that they will make change and they are bringing hope back into this.”

Maloney’s resolution cites reporting and data from academic journals and news publications, mentioning statistics such as that young people and adolescents in the United States are 14 to 23 times more likely to be killed with a gun than in other high-income countries; that 19 children per day are killed or get emergency treatment for gunshot wounds; and that since the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, 136 students and school employees have died in school mass shootings.

It also mentions some of the efforts the school system has put into making its schools safer, such as mental health support, increasing the number of counselors, and implementing stronger school entrance control.

[Read the full text of the resolution here.]

While the specifics and language of the resolution drew skepticism from other board members, DeKenipp and Rose were its most vocal critics. DeKenipp, who told the board “I’m armed every day, I’m armed right now, I’m not a threat to anybody in this room” and dismissed concerns about high-capacity magazines by saying he can reload his weapon in seconds—“we’re that good, we’re that trained”—said his experience with firearms had not turned him against them.

“I’ve lost more friends to gun violence, for lack of a better term, more than I’d like to count, and the reality is, I don’t blame the weapon,” DeKenipp said. “I blame the dirtbags that were behind the trigger.”

He also criticized language about reducing the lethality of gun violence, arguing “the purpose of guns is lethality. They’re designed and built to cause harm, that’s the reality of it.” He argued the resolution, which the board discussed for an hour, “doesn’t do anything, and it is a waste of time.”

Rose, meanwhile, criticized the statistics presented in the resolution, and said “it’s not OK for folks to come up here and ask, what are you doing. There’s a lot, and we have been doing a lot.”

“I’m all about doing it right, and I do do what I can,” Rose said. “My actions speak louder than not raising my hand to support a ‘whereas’ and a ‘therefore.’ I anticipate this isn’t going to make me popular, but fortunately I don’t do this job to be popular, I do it to do what I think is right.”

The board also heard from number of students, parents, and teachers at the meeting asking them to pass Maloney’s resolution. Teacher Mary Katherine Gregory told the school board about plans she and other teachers have in the case of a school shooting—such as charging the shooter with a chair, or attacking them with chemicals in a science lab, or simply taking bullets for the kids.

“Imagine it: a school turned into a warzone. Let it sink in, let it startle you, let it turn your stomach, let it fill your eyes with tears,” Gregory said. “Just imagine the chaos, the fear, the split-second life and death decisions. Sit with it, let it be real, because it is real, and it’s heartbreakingly possible in any school at any time.”

Ann Neiberger-Miller, one of several members of Moms Demand Action at the meeting, said a yes vote on the resolution wouldn’t signify a political direction.

“Instead, a yes vote is a duty of care in our school system,” Neiberger-Miller said. ”A yes vote does not threaten the Second Amendment, and shows you recognize the seriousness of this issue.”

And eighth grader Annie Greenman was among those who reacted to Morse’s comments at a previous meeting that students can be outraged, but should not be scared.

“If we are not afraid, we will not speak out, and if we don’t speak out, change won’t happen,” Greenman said.

After the vote, Maloney said the resolution’s adoption sends a message to students “that we’re also supporting them, that we are doing what we can to address this issue, and that we support their calls to do more.”

rgreene@loudounnow.com
@RenssGreene

12 thoughts on “Loudoun School Board Adopts Gun Violence Prevention Resolution

  • 2018-04-11 at 4:28 pm
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    We must all think VERY HARD about why a SCHOOL BOARD member would find it (a) necessary and (b) appropriate to carry a gun into a school admin building for a community meeting. I am also curious about the comment that guns don’t kill people. I’d like to see a person without a gun kill 20-50 people in a matter of minutes without a gun. Cars don’t drive people. People drive people. It’s absurd. And I am curious why the abstensions? Conflicts of interest? Or nay votes in disguise?

    • 2018-04-16 at 9:36 am
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      “I am also curious about the comment that guns don’t kill people. I’d like to see a person without a gun kill 20-50 people in a matter of minutes without a gun.”

      To paraphrase your statement, I’d like to see a ‘gun without a person kill 20-50 people in a matter of minutes without a person.” Just not possible for inanimate machinery to do so, without human operation.

      People kill people. Ignoring that fact dilutes your argument

  • 2018-04-11 at 5:21 pm
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    Exactly how many School Resource Officers did the School Board budget and vote to place in our schools? I must have missed that part?

    • 2018-04-12 at 1:18 pm
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      There is an SRO at every middle school and every high school.

  • 2018-04-12 at 9:08 am
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    I have no real feelings on the resolution but have two burning questions.
    1. What is the School Board policy on people carrying weapons on LCPS property? I thought that was prohibited?
    2. Does Mr. DeKenipp really believe that he can shoot as many rounds with a handgun as someone with a high-capacity magazine? If so why don’t the world’s armies just carry handguns?

    Sorry, more than two questions but I would love answers nonetheless. Anyone well-versed in this?

    • 2018-04-12 at 1:17 pm
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      Guns are banned on school sites. The admin building is not a school site.

      Many folks with concealed carry permits carry them everywhere. The fact that you don’t see random shootings everywhere proves that these folks pose no danger whatsoever.

      Did you also know an armed LCSO deputy attends those meetings? Guns are present. An ex-military person carrying a gun provides more protection not danger.

  • 2018-04-12 at 12:20 pm
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    I propose the School Board amend their resolution, Whereas in lieu of any real action the School Board approves this piece of paper, as a measure to prevent anyone from saying they are doing nothing to make schools more secure, and shall endeavor to make all firearms fire nerf bullets, therefore reduce the lethality of gun violence. Sadly it is illustrative of the lack of seriousness this issue truly deserves, including efforts to dedicate law enforcement resources and training to each and every school, that will protect and keep safe our children every day.

  • 2018-04-12 at 12:24 pm
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    “I’d like to see a person without a gun kill 20-50 people in a matter of minutes without a gun.”

    Since you asked villegas… Manhattan, October of 2017, 8 dead and plenty wounded by a religious freak in a Home Depot rental truck in less than two minutes. No gun. If that isn’t good enough, maybe the Bastille Day massacre in July of 2016 — only 87 killed and nearly 500 wounded and maimed in about two minutes. Yet again, just a religious freak with a truck. No gun.

    A little closer to home, between 9 and 11 teens die every day in America while texting and driving; about 3,000 annual deaths. Depending upon the year, another couple of hundred thousand are injured doing the same. In the time since you posted, more teens have been driving and texting than were murdered at Parkland. Not guns, just regular old cars.

    Again, did miss the part in the story where the School Board was quickly working with the BOS and the Sheriffs Office to place an SRO in every Loudoun School?

  • 2018-04-12 at 4:46 pm
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    Having read the resolution, I’m fully supportive of Eric DeKenipp (and yes, I’m a different Eric 🙂 on this resolution: it was a “me too” b.s. measure that wastes the time of everyone involved.

    We seem to be raising a generation of sheep. Sheep only have two futures: to get fleeced or to get slaughtered.

  • 2018-04-12 at 6:22 pm
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    There needs to be one in every single school SGP. As you correctly point out, if having a deputy is good enough for School Board meetings, is it not good enough for our elementary schools?

    How about we pull that deputy out of the school board meetings and post them to the first elementary school they come to.

    • 2018-04-12 at 10:17 pm
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      No problem with that but I don’t think it is necessary. Recall the main issue is with students returning to school to shoot classmates/teachers. Elementary schools don’t really face this issue. Sandy Hook was tragic but an anomaly. Nearly every other shooting occurred at a middle or high school.

  • 2018-04-13 at 1:53 pm
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    It really makes me “proud” to have a school board so interested in political grandstanding. Meanwhile, LCPS:

    1. Has no math facilitators/specialists despite subpar math scores wasn’t Maloney a math tacher at some point? Hmmm)

    2. Still don’t objectively evaluate teachers on student growth

    3. Won’t commit to tell parents if kids are suicidal

    4. Won’t follow law on SpEd kids.

    And on and on. I guess there is no time to debate these issues.

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