School safety taskforce fails to address guns

CONCORD – Members of Gov. Chris Sununu’s School Safety Preparedness Taskforce issued their report late Friday afternoon, after months of meetings – sometimes in secret – without issuing any recommendations to change New Hampshire’s gun laws.

“Efforts to provide recommendations on issues where little agreement was found was beyond the purview of the taskforce, including recommendations regarding gun control, and gun-free zones,” the report states.

Sununu convened the taskforce in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. While that shooting sparked high school students throughout the country to advocate for stricter gun laws, Sununu’s Task Force found that question beyond its purview.

“I could not be more proud of this comprehensive report,” Sununu said. “An incredible amount of work has been done in a very short amount of time.”

When he convened the taskforce in February, Sununu announced the group would not always hold meetings that were open to the public, therefore, shielding some information and conversations.

The report focuses on safety recommendations for schools, which Sununu’s team members are calling a model for other states. The taskforce makes 59 recommendations, with the key suggestions being

 starting a 24-hour anonymous tip line for students, teachers and parents;

 creating a one-stop resource center for schools;

 instituting a school based “See Something Say Something” campaign; and

 expanding mental health resources.

“Although some of the recommendations will take some time, there are several actions already underway, including developing the tools our local school districts need to succeed and putting timelines in place for my commissioners to complete recommendations contained in this report,” Sununu said.

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Perry Plummer, who chairs the taskforce, said the report comes as the state has already invested in school safety.

“I am proud to represent a state that was already ahead of most of the nation when it comes to school safety and still invested $30 million dollars to make our schools even safer, however, I was never prouder than when the governor called for more action and put the taskforce together and am extremely grateful to the hundred individuals that dedicated their time to this effort,” Plummer said.

Former state senator Molly Kelly, a Democrat who hopes to unseat Sununu in November, blasted the report for not addressing gun laws.

“By following (President) Donald Trump’s lead and stopping a serious conversation on gun safety, Chris Sununu has failed to do everything possible to keep students safe,” Kelly said. “I refuse to wait for New Hampshire to suffer through our own tragic school shooting. As governor, I will stand with our brave students and pursue commonsense gun safety measures, including universal background checks, preventing children and domestic abusers from getting guns, keeping military-style weapons off our streets and reinstating the requirement of a permit to carry a concealed weapon.”

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or dfisher@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DF.