DNC: Bush Absent On Protecting America's School Children
Washington, DC - Today, in the wake of a spate of school shootings, President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush will participate in a panel on school safety in Chevy Chase, MD. Despite the President's newfound attention to this crucial issue, his Administration has not taken the safety of our classrooms very seriously over the last five years. Funding for the Cops in Schools Program has been slashed on numerous occasions under the watch of President Bush and his GOP Congress. At the same time, gun violence is on the rise.
"America's schoolchildren deserve more than election year promises about keeping them safe in the classroom," said Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Stacie Paxton. "The Bush Administration and the GOP repeatedly cut funding to put police officers in schools. With this kind of record, Republicans lack credibility on this and many other issues. Democrats are offering a new direction that puts the interests and the safety America's schoolchildren first."
Bush and Hastert Have Recently Spoke-Out About the Importance of Protecting Our Children. President Bush recently said in a speech in California, "The most important jobs of those involved with schools and government is to make sure that children are safe." Speaker Hastert also argued that, "Our children need to be protected, and we're going to do everything we can to protect them." [Associated Press, 10/8/06, whitehouse.gov]
Yet, The Department of Justice's "Cops in Schools Program" Funding Has Been Cut Dramatically During The Bush Administration. According to Department of Justice numbers released during a Congressional press conference, the Community Oriented Policing Service's (COPS) budget for the "Cops in Schools program" has been slashed during the Bush Administration. During the last two years of the Clinton Administration, 1999 and 2000, the budget for the "Cops in Schools" program hovered around $160 million. By 2003 the budget was reduced to $38 Million. In 2004, there was a slight increase to $52 Million. Then, it fell yet again to $5 Million in 2005. In 2006, the program was zeroed out.[Associated Press, 10/8/06]
Bush Does Little To Stop Criminals From Obtaining Guns. A 2004 study by the moderate Americans for Gun Safety, a "gun-control group that does not support licensing gun owners or registering their weapons," shows that the Bush Administration has done little to improve enforcements of gun laws. The Bush administration does too little to prevent felons from obtaining guns or prosecuting gun crimes other than those that involve drugs. "Federal charges are rarely brought against criminals caught attempting to buy firearms or against corrupt gun dealers and others who traffic in illegal guns." Despite orders to prosecute people who lie on background checks, charges filed against these violators have declined since 2002. When checked against the database 126,181 applications were found with false information, yet only 532 federal prosecutions were filed in 2003. [Americans for Gun Safety report, Enforcement Gap, October 2004]
Gun Violence on the Rise. In 2005, Americans were robbed and victimized by gun violence at greater rates last year than the year before, even though overall violent and property crime reached a 32-year low. [AP, 9/11/06]