ACLU: Senate Must Protect Civil Liberties with Post-Newtown Legislation

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSWPF)–March 7, 2013.  As a markup of legislation intended to prevent another incident like last year’s horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School begins today, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee should ensure a federal solution that not only protects the physical security of Americans but also protects their civil rights.

“If the Senate Judiciary Committee implements smart reforms without sacrificing our civil rights and liberties, our children will be safer,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office. “While some proposals, like installing better locks on doors and safety glass, will make schools safer, we don’t want to put any measures in place that would militarize our learning environments, such as tip lines for reporting students, additional surveillance equipment, or other proposals that might put more police in schools. Based on the Department of Education’s own data collection, minority children and children with disabilities are already disproportionately subjected to school discipline policies, like suspension, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement. We’re also concerned about the enactment of increased criminal penalties that will add to more overcrowding in federal prisons, and any proposals that stigmatize and violate the privacy of the mentally ill.”

The ACLU detailed its concerns with potential post-Newtown legislation in a recent blog post. The organization also sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden in January detailing recommendations for his gun violence task force.