U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-15th District) said he can support some form of federal legislation to try to lower the incidence and severity of school shootings, and that he favors a holistic approach.
Regarding guns, he thinks the background check system needs to be looked at and fixed where needed.
The congressman is for amending HIPAA law so mental health information can be used in the background check system. The HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that speaks to the privacy and security of an individual’s health information.
Stivers also would support banning devices “that take a semi-automatic weapon and give them the characteristics and functionality of an automatic weapon.”
For Stivers an example of the holistic approach is to address what he called the mental health crisis in the country and a need to fund mental health.
He also pointed to doing more to give resources to schools for defensive measures: For two examples, law enforcement officers stationed in schools (called school resource officers), plus security technology.
“There’s a lot we can do with regard to helping school safety itself, and ‘hardening’ our schools as targets,” Stivers stated.
He said that frankly there are other non-governmental issues that contribute to the phenomenon of school shootings. There needs to be a conversation about parenting in this country, said Stivers.
He also mentioned giving law enforcement the tools, tactics and techniques they need to take seriously tips they get about potential school violence.
In his recent phone interview with the News Journal, Stivers also spoke about the Civility and Respect Caucus he and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-3rd District, Ohio) recently launched. In connection with the initiative, they have begun touring area high schools and civic organizations concerning why civility matters when it comes to political issues.
Each member of the caucus — there were 14 or 16 members at the time of the interview — has made a commitment to find opportunities to lead similar bipartisan discussions in their own districts on civility and respect in the everyday life of students and adults.
“It’s not about changing people’s views on issues. Joyce and I are convinced it’s [also] not about avoiding disagreement, but it’s a way to encourage people to have real conversations and listen and learn from each other,” said Stivers.
On a personal note, Stivers said he and Beatty met through a disagreement, but have “become great friends and trust each other.”
They accomplish things for Ohio and the United States by listening to and working with each other, he said.
“We don’t always agree, but when we disagree we don’t vilify each other, but rather work to try to find a common understanding and when we don’t, we can agree to disagree but not question each other’s motives or attack each other personally,” said Stivers.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.