I have always heard the saying, "Third time's the charm," but as a member of Congress, I have learned sometimes it takes even more than that to pass legislation.
Since I came to Congress, I have worked to pass legislation to collect data on the use of guns in schools. Last week, the House Education Committee, on which I sit, finally passed a bill funding the studies of several important data collecting agencies within the Department of Education, including the National Center for Education Statistics. H.R. 3801, Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, has my data collection amendment included.
When I first learned of the lack of information collected when a crime is committed on school grounds, I was shocked. Right now, if a student brings a gun to school and shoots someone, it is recorded as an incidence of violence. But if another student stabs a classmate with a fork, it is also recorded as an incidence of violence. No differentiation is made between these two acts of violence, even though they are drastically different. No information is recorded with regards to the type of weapon used, how many and if anyone was injured, or if the victim has any relationship to the perpetrator. In my opinion, this is not exactly a comprehensive look at what is going on in our schools.
As a nurse, I know that having the right data is crucial if we want to solve the larger issue at hand - our kids' safety. When kids are killing kids, we should be doing everything we can to prevent it. One very real and easy way to prevent these tragedies from happening again is to see what's happening where and when. By doing so we can learn to prevent these tragedies in the future.
As a member of the Education Committee, I have worked on three different pieces of legislation that provide funds to states to collect data from schools. Three different times, I have offered my amendment to collect data on guns used in schools. Three times this amendment has been approved - but unfortunately these bills have never become law.
However, House Education Committee Chairman Boehner now assures me the Education Sciences Reform bill will be brought to the floor of the House for a vote in April. Hopefully that will be the last time Congress has to vote on it.
People say timing is everything and I think this legislation is long overdue.