WASHINGTON — Federal funds would be made available to deploy National Guard troops at schools under legislation introduced Wednesday by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in response to last week’s mass slaying at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
The Save Our Schools Act would leave it to governors to decide whether to call out the National Guard and how to use troops around schools.
"Is it not part of the national defense to make sure that your children are safe?" Boxer said at Capitol Hill press conference.
Boxer also introduced the School Safety Enhancement Act, which would increase funding for a federal grants program, from $30 million to $50 million, to help fund school security measures, such as installation of metal detectors and surveillance cameras.
The bills are among the first of what is expected to be a wave of legislative proposals intended to curb gun violence, including tougher gun control and new measures aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill.
"The slaughter of the innocents must stop," she said. "We must keep our schools safe by utilizing all of the law enforcement tools at our disposal."
Boxer said the National Guard legislation is modeled after a program in place since 1989 that allows governors to use the National Guard to aid law enforcement in anti-drug operations. Troops could be deployed at schools, or assigned to desk jobs at police stations to free up local law enforcement to patrol schools.
Citing 258 shooting deaths at U.S. schools since 1999, Boxer said, "Whoever says this is not the right time, I say this, 'When is the right time?'"