STAFFORD – U.S. Congressman Tom MacArthur recently highlighted a strategy of response in regards to the Parkland shooting. MacArthur held a meeting to discuss community safety in Stafford Township on February 19 with community members.
The meeting was attended by Mayor John Spodofora, Police Chief Tom Dellane, Captain Herman Pharo, Licensed Clinical Social Worker Meghan Corrigan, Charlene Hoverter - Barnegat resident who is Survivor Engagement Lead and Fellow for Every Town for Gun Safety and a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Randy Campoli who is a local business owner, NRA member, and hunter.
After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, MacArthur made the following statement.
“I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment in Congress and I have received support from the NRA. I have been a recreational shooter for much of my adult life. Yet, I have advocated for more stringent gun safety measures, such as supporting more funding for background checks and tight regulations on bump stocks. While not a popular opinion with some Second Amendment groups, I strongly believe that background checks are worthless unless they cover every gun purchase. We can and must do more,” said Congressman MacArthur.
MacArthur continued, “This week, I held a meeting with local law enforcement officials, a licensed certified social worker, a local advocate for Everytown for Gun Safety, and a local NRA member to discuss community safety and the issue of gun violence. There was no finger-pointing or name calling; instead we had a productive and open conversation about this critical topic. I walked away from this meeting believing we can effectuate real change that will make our communities safer. Doing nothing to stop gun violence in our communities is irresponsible. We must work together and advance real solutions to protect our children and neighborhoods.”
MacArthur listed the following strategies that he will promote in Washington D.C. to effect change:
Create a national pilot program to address mental health concerns in real time
This strategic point includes adopting a pilot program that originated from Chief Thomas Dellane from the Stafford Township Police Department that addresses mental health concerns.
“We must do more to empower our teachers, mental health professionals, and law enforcement officers, who spend more time with our children than anyone," MacArthur said. "They see things that others may not see and often have their hands tied by endless red-tape. We need to empower these professionals, which can be done by launching a national pilot of the On P.O.I.N.T. program, which is seeing tremendous success in Stafford Township.
This program partners law enforcement with social workers to help provide mental health services to individuals who need it. This program is working in our district and it will work nationwide.”"
"I am extremely proud that Congressman MacArthur is advocating for the Stafford Township Police Department On-POINT program to become a national model to address the mental health crisis gripping our nation," wrote Chief Thomas Dellane in the Stafford Police Department Facebook page.
Stafford Police Chief Tom Dellane
"The men and women of the police department have embraced the program since its inception in September of 2016 and have increased the quality of life for our residents and visitors to Stafford Township.
Ocean Mental Health Services is our partner in providing the On-POINT program and a great deal of the success of the program belongs to them.
You can learn more about On-POINT by visiting our website at www.staffordpolice.org and clicking on the On-POINT logo. There are also some informational videos about the program that you can view by clicking on our YouTube link on the website."
Stronger, more uniform background checks
“I do not believe the shooter in this instance should have been able to get a gun. Yet, he did, because the system failed. While I have voted for more robust funding for NICS – the federal background check system – there are clearly problems with it. I am calling on Attorney General Sessions to issue guidance to States, which have their own background check systems, on ways to bolster their efforts, and make them more universal across the board. I also believe that background checks are worthless, unless they cover every gun purchase.”
Secure our schools through additional personnel and safe infrastructure improvements
“Congress must provide more funding and training resources to local school districts to enhance physical security in schools, through personnel, training, and additional infrastructure. We must consider federal grants to fund armed security in schools, as we have in airports and malls across the nation. Our schools are less secure than our banks. There’s something wrong with that.”
Get illegal guns off our streets
“We can’t have a conversation about gun violence without mentioning the atrocities that are occurring across our country on a daily basis with illegal weapons. We need to get illegal weapons off our streets with increased gun buyback programs and targeted, well-funded law enforcement efforts to target illegal weapons.”
Study gun violence at federal level
“While I have seen too many wasteful studies in government, we need more scientific research on gun violence and its causes. This is a worthy investment by the government, and can be done by several federal agencies. Any study must also consider the moral and spiritual decay in our society. Hollywood glorifies violence, the media makes its perpetrators famous, and the video game industry creates ever more realistic virtual games, where killing is a form of entertainment. Sick and troubled people feed off of this. I am not suggesting that we outlaw media coverage, movies, or video games, but we need to confront the impact these things have on children. I am willing to lead on, serve or support such a study, which should include diverse perspectives.”