SPOKANE, Wash. -Thursday night, Washington state's congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers took part in a school safety open forum at Ferris High School.
The forum was held by the Chase Youth Commission and welcomed local students to ask questions of a panel that included congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, and local mental health professionals.
The congresswoman heard directly from local students on their vision for what’s need to keep schools safe.
The students brought up topics including gun control, mental health, and pressures they feel at school. McMorris Rodgers is a co-sponsor of the "Stop School Violence Act." At Thursday's forum, she highlighted the bill, which was passed by the House last week. It funds school security, along with training for law enforcement, school personnel, and students.
“I want to thank those who joined this evening at the Chase Youth Commission School Safety Forum. There’s no easy solution, and as we discussed this evening, this is a multifaceted issue that is going to take all of us coming together to have courageous conversations, find common ground, and work to make changes to keep schools safe," the congresswoman wrote on her Facebook page.
"I will always be a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. I also understand the importance of keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals, those with domestic violence history, and others who shouldn't have access to them. That’s why I voted for a bill signed into law last week to fix the federal background check system so guns aren’t falling into the wrong hands. I also heard tonight about the need for more resources, which is why we got the STOP School Violence Act signed into law last week also to provide those resources for schools, mental health, and law enforcement right here in our community. But this conversation is not over, and I commit to continue working with people here to find solutions that I can bring to Congress and lead on to stop this cycle of school violence."
Following the forum, KHQ spoke with students who say it was important for them to be there tonight to discuss these issues. Students say they will continue making their voices heard until they feel safe in school.
"She's helped to pass a bill that increases funding, which is helpful for our schools, but overall I don't think that we had a very good conversation about next steps that will really help make our schools safer," Ellary Lockwood, a junior at Lewis and Clark High School said.
"By someone coming up and saying 'this is the congresswoman's fault, this is the sheriff's fault,' they're not saying what to do to fix it and so I think just because of that, nobody got any closer to solving a problem," Gavin Byrnes, a junior at Lewis and Clark High School said.
"I did not hear very many solutions offered tonight, mostly people were just angry, and wanting change. But they didn't specify what that change should be," Ethan Carson, a sernior at Lewis and Clark High School said.
Friday, McMorris Rodgers will be in Spokane to continue the discussion of important issues facing our region, including a "Conversation with Cathy" Town Hall meeting at the Centerplace Event Center from 2PM to 3PM.