Rochester Public Schools to vote on resolution calling for more gun safety legislation

"We are determined that this will not be political," said School Board Chairwoman Jean Marvin. "This is about student safety. Period. It's a very narrow resolution."

Rochester School Board
A school board meeting is held on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at the Edison Building in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — The Rochester School Board is set to vote Tuesday on a resolution calling for more legislative action on gun safety measures.

School Board member Jess Garcia is submitting the resolution on behalf of the board's legislative committee. The school board tasked the legislative committee with looking into the possibility on June 7, 2022, shortly after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.

The proposed resolution reads, in part:

"(Rochester Public Schools) hereby encourages local, state and national elected officials in their continued efforts to pass and implement legislative action in order to reduce gun violence within the Rochester Public School District and elsewhere to protect all children, students, parents, guardians, caregivers, educators, staff, and all members of the public from the increasing harm and trauma experienced in our communities."

In addition to calling for more gun safety legislation broadly, the resolution makes some indirect reference to specific actions.


"Our society can benefit from local, state, and federal laws which include universal background checks, red flag laws, permit-to-purchase, magazine limits, wait periods, and assault rifle bans," the proposed resolution reads.

If approved, the proposed resolution would be taking a stance on a hotly debated national issue. Garcia could not be immediately reached for further comment.

In addition to the language referring to legislative action, the proposed resolution also includes a directive to send literature to families "that explains the importance of secure gun storage." Board Chairwoman Jean Marvin said the resolution is about educating families, similar to how it would about drug and alcohol abuse.

"We are determined that this will not be political," Marvin said. "This is about student safety. Period. It's a very narrow resolution."

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Board member Karen MacLaughlin is part of the legislative committee that drafted the proposed resolution. She said educating families about safe gun storage can help reduce deaths.

She said another way the school district can affect the situation is by working with other agencies, such as those in law enforcement and health care, to provide a more holistic approach to the reduction of gun violence. That initiative is also included in the proposed resolution.

As to the language calling for legislative action, MacLaughlin emphasized that the school district does not have a role in that process other than supporting certain initiatives.

"I think we're acting with the best interest of children in mind," MacLaughlin said. "We want to do something that will hopefully reduce gun violence and the potential for school shootings. We feel a responsibility as a board to not be silent on the issue and to take what action we can."


The proposed resolution comes on the heels of Congress approving the Safer Communities Act. According to Rochester Public Schools, it is "the first gun violence prevention legislation in over 30 years."

Among other features, the legislation provides more resources for mental health needs among students.

According to RPS Communications Director Mamisoa Knutson, the school district has not had any disciplinary actions related to firearms in the 10 years of its records.

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or
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