U.S. senator on gun violence: We need more than thoughts and prayers

In the wake of the school shooting in Florida this week that took the lives of at least 17 students, one U.S. senator in Dayton Friday said the problem needs more than “thoughts and prayers.”

“It’s one school shooting after another,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said. “Politician after politician says, ‘My prayers are with the families.’ Of course our prayers are with the families. (But) we’re a rich, can-do nation, and we’re the only country in the world that has these regular mass shootings.”

“Every time there’s a mass shooting — and they seem to happen in school yards once a month — a bunch of politicians in Washington say, ‘My prayers are with you, and I grieve for the family,’ but they don’t do anything,” the senator said.

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Brown was in Harrison Twp. Friday visiting Teamsters Local 957 to talk about legislation he says would support ailing union pensions. But he was also asked about gun control and school safety.

“Congressmen sit on their hands because they’re in the pocket of the gun lobby and it’s just outrageous,” Brown said.

The Cleveland-area Democrat said “no one is quarreling with the existence of the Second Amendment.”

“Of course, we’re going to protect gun rights,” he said.

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Some “common sense” steps he said legislators should take: Establish background checks for gun buyers and denying those on federal “terror” watch lists the ability to buy guns.

“Those kinds of loopholes, those kinds of common sense laws Congress should pass,” he said. “To get this Congress to do anything would be a good first step.”

Joe Eaton, treasurer for the Buckeye Firearms Association and a Warren County resident, said school employees need concrete training to deal with emergency situations.

The Buckeye Firearms Associations has provided free training through its “Faster Saves Lives” program for five years to armed schools resource offices and staff.

That training has reached 1,300 school employees from 225 districts across 76 Ohio counties.

“Firearms is a part of it,” Eaton said. “But a lot of it is the crisis- and emergency-management training, skills, moving people from an area of danger to an area of safety, how do you deal with large crowds … and more importantly is the trauma medical training.”

Said Eaton, “The way that you save lives is first stop the killing as soon as possible, and second start rendering medical aid as soon as possible.”

Eaton said he agrees with Brown that he wants school shootings to stop.

School leaders “wake up every day needing answers to what they can do for those two, five, 10, 15 minutes should violence come to their school before the professionals get there,” he said.

A message seeking reaction was left with media representatives for the National Rifle Association.

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