Families of Parkland Victims Advocate Safe Schools on Capitol Hill
Ahead of One Year Commemoration of Tragic School Shooting

February 8, 2019 by TWN Staff
Tony Montalto, left, speaks during a press conference as others, including Fred Guttenberg, April Schentrup, and Max Schachter, listen in the background Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 in Sunrise, Fla. The parents of students killed in the Parkland massacres spoke during a news conference where they called for changes in the school system, naming the school board's "poor performance" as a specific target. "The Broward County School Board has failed to properly secure the county's 234 schools for the upcoming school year," according to a statement from Stand With Parkland, the National Association of Families for Safe Schools. "Their lack of leadership and constant reversal of policy positions has put our students and teachers at risk for the beginning of school next week." (Taimy Alvarez/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

One week ahead of the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the families of the victims took to Capitol Hill to deliver their message: take action to make our schools safer.

During a press conference in the committee room that hosted a hearing on gun safety just a day prior, Stand with Parkland President Tony Montalto implored members on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to take action to ensure the same tragedy did not befall anyone else.

Following are Montalto’s full remarks as prepared for delivery.

“Good Morning, I am Tony Montalto, My daughter Gina was one of the 17 wonderful souls lost in the Parkland, Florida massacre nearly one year ago – on February 14, 2018.

“I am speaking to you today as the President of Stand with Parkland – The National Association of Families for Safe Schools, which was founded by the families who lost loved ones on that horrific day. The loss of our beloved spouses and children while at school was devastating. We all realized change was needed to avoid another mass shooting in America’s schools.

“H.R. 8,  “The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019,” should be an important piece in helping our nation keep students and staff safe at school. We need robust laws on the books and enforcement on the streets in order to keep firearms out of the hands of those who should not have them. Mandatory background checks on all sales and transfers of firearms needs to become part of any national effort to prevent our children from being murdered at school.

“Stand with Parkland advocates for a holistic approach toward improving the safety of all schools by securing the campus, improving mental health screening and intervention, and promoting responsible firearms ownership.

“In the nearly twenty years since Columbine our nation has made little progress in stopping mass school shootings. It is an issue that affects us all, Democrats and Republicans alike. This is why solutions like H.R. 8, “The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019,” are so important. The effort to solve this complex issue begins when all Americans show a willingness to have discussions and respectfully listen to the views of others. Surely, there is more that unites us on this issue than divides us.

“Several members of this 116th Congress have come together to try and solve the problem. Representatives Thompson from California, King and Nadler from New York, Deutch from Florida, Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania, and McBath from Georgia have all gathered here today, not just as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. They see the need for laws that help keep students and staff members safe in our nation’s schools.

Stand with Parkland – The National Association of Families for Safe Schools, is proud to join with Everytown for Gun Safety in supporting H.R. 8, “The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.” We hope it moves quickly through the House of Representatives, is taken up by the Senate for consideration, and sent to the President in a timely fashion. We applaud the bipartisan nature of this bill and hope to see further cooperation on other bills – to protect America’s students and staff members while at school.”

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