In response to school shootings across the nation, local lawmakers want kids to be more prepared in case it happens at their school.
The last time a child died in a school fire was in the 1950s in Chicago, which is why Sen. Craig Brandt said the need for fire drills just isn’t there, but his Senate Bill 147 would make local schools focus on preparing for a bigger threat.
“By looking and making a threat assessment we decided a more productive use of our time would be to focus on active shooter drills because unfortunately, we’ve lost kids,” the Republican Senator from Rio Rancho explained.
In New Mexico, the last school shooting was in December 2017 at Aztec High School, taking the lives of 17-year-olds Casey Marquez and Paco Fernandez.
Sen. Brandt’s bill would lower the number of total drills for public and private schools from 14 per year to at least eight.
At least two of them in the first month of the school year would have to be active shooter drills. Four others have to be fire drills and the district can choose what to do with the remaining two.
“The hope is that the other two would be the active shooter drills, but really allowing school districts to decide what is best for their district,” Sen. Brandt said.
Schools can also have more than the eight drills if they choose.
Brandt has two other school safety-related bills, both in the Senate Finance Committee.
One makes a school threat a fourth-degree felony, which carries up to 18 months in jail. The other would give incentives like cost of living increases to retired officers to become school safety personnel.
The bill for active shooter drills passed the Senate floor Thursday night and will move to the House floor next before reaching the governor’s desk.