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Bost speaks on gun control

  • U.S. Rep. Mike Bost

    U.S. Rep. Mike Bost

by pete spitler
updated: 3/8/2018 1:42 PM

With gun control still a hot topic in Washington and elsewhere, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL 12th District) was asked his thoughts on the issue during a recent appearance in Pinckneyville.

"The issues that are out there right now, we need to make sure all of our background checks are doing what they're supposed to be doing and make sure we enforce the existing laws," Bost said. "You'll also see the ATF will rejudge bump stocks from before, because they can do that by administrative rule, not law."

Bost appeared to suggest a stronger look at gun access to those with mental health issues.

"What we really need to do is make sure our mental health stuff, the legislation that is passed from the House, is then moved to the Senate and I have a bill that was already in the works before the shooting," Bost said.

Bost was referring to the Securing Our Schools (SOS) Act that he introduced in January and is co-sponsoring along with U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL 10th District). The SOS Act will authorize the Department of Justice to offer grants to local school districts for buying and installing panic buttons in classrooms.

The panic buttons, as stated in the bill, would allow for "immediate notification of emergency response personnel, law enforcement, or other appropriate officials (as determined by the local education agency) in the case of an emergency, including a health emergency, reports of an assailant armed with a weapon, an act of terrorism, a natural disaster, or other similar emergency, as determined by the local education agency."

The bill does not state how many grants were to be awarded during the pilot program and who would be in charge of deciding which districts receive them, but the U.S. Attorney General's office would be responsible for distributing them.

Ironically enough, the Act was introduced on Jan. 17, a little less than a month before Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people in a Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

"It has a whole lot to do with putting certain things in place for an early-warning systems, including panic buttons," Bost said of the SOS Act. "So as I move forward with that language, which my hope is whatever we do, we put it together.

"I don't believe that there is anti-gun legislation out there that can fix this problem."

Bost was asked his take on the surge of student activism in the wake of the Parkland shooting. A Nation School Walkout - planned by the organizers of the National Women's March and spurred by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivors - is scheduled for March 14 from 10 a.m. to 10:17 a.m. and is part of a movement to encourage stricter gun laws.

"It's always good to have their input as long as our decisions are made on good, wise, informed decisions, not based on emotion," Bost said. "Their input is vitally important."

Lawmakers are also grappling with whether to allow teachers to be armed in their classrooms, after President Trump raised the issue in response to the Parkland shooting.

"There's all kinds of things we're looking at," Bost said. "Who can be put into our schools to secure our schools. Is it guards? Is it the way that if a teacher wants to be armed with the proper training and everything like that?

"That's got to be worked through to make sure IEA (Illinois Education Association) and the NEA (National Education Association) doesn't feel like they're being infringed upon."

Bost noted that his constituents appear split on the issue.

"One teacher tells me 'I can carry a weapon, I was military person, I've been trained with that," Bost said. "But you've got another person saying 'I don't want somebody else to be carrying in my school' because they don't understand.

"And that varies also from which region you're from in the United States. It's going to be tough, but we've got to get something done."

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