Governors form task force to deal with mass shootings
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Leaders of the National Governors Association said Friday they were forming a bipartisan task force to make recommendations to stop mass shootings in the wake of the Texas school massacre.
Reaching a consensus could be a tall order given that the country’s governors have been divided along partisan lines over how to approach issues of gun control and school safety.
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, chairman of the panel, and Democratic Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, vice chairman, told the White House in a letter that they would convene a panel of six to 10 governors, with particular emphasis on securing schools.
Hutchinson and Murphy seemed to leave open the possibility that the recommendations would include some gun control proposals. The US House of Representatives this week approved a sweeping gun control bill that is unlikely to pass the Senate.
“We hope the task force can provide suggestions for keeping our schools and communities safe in a way that is consistent with the demands of the American people, who overwhelmingly support gun safety measures,” says Governors letter. « We can all agree that there are sensible ways to prevent these tragic events, and we must work together to do everything in our collective power to protect our communities and our most vulnerable citizens – our children. »
The letter comes as governors have been split along partisan lines over the best response to the Uvalde, Texas shooting that killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers. A recent Associated Press survey showed governors divided, with Democrats calling for more gun restrictions and Republicans focusing instead on toughening school safety.
Hutchinson said raising the minimum age to buy an AR-style rifle from 18 to 21 should be part of the discussion. But Hutchinson, who leaves office in January and plans to run for president, is not calling for such a move in his state and said gun control measures would not be on the agenda. if he asked the Republican-controlled Legislature to take ideas on school safety in a possible special session.
The letter was sent the same day Hutchinson announced he was re-establishing a school safety commission he formed to make recommendations following the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press