It is sadly typical of this administration that it takes a rash of school shootings for the topic of school safety to be taken seriously.  These tragedies and near-tragedies have come in the wake of the administration submitting budgets that call for the elimination of school safety programs such as the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities grant program. But more importantly, I am concerned by what will not be discussed at this conference: the need for common sense gun laws.

President Bush and the Republican controlled Congress have made the weapons used in the attacks on our schools and children increasingly easier to obtain.  Just yesterday a student in Missouri tried to kill his principal with an AK-47 assault rifle, a weapon that until two years ago was illegal to possess in this country.  AK-47s, Uzi, Tec-9s and other hand held weapons of mass destruction all became legal when President Bush and the Congress failed to reauthorize the assault weapons ban.

While Congress passed laws that called laws mandating seven dollar child-safety locks on handguns a "tax on gun owners," this administration was silent.  When Congress passed legislation that would allow guns in hurricane shelters, this administration was silent.  When Congress passed legislation that allows corrupt gun dealerships to stay open even after their license has been revoked, this administration was silent.  When Congress made it illegal for two police departments to share ballistics information, this administration was silent.

And while today's conference addresses issues that should have been taken up years ago, its time for the President to end his silence on our lack of common sense gun laws.  It's time for the President to oppose these common sense defying gun bills coming out of Congress that do nothing to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and serve only to aid and abet criminals and corrupt gun traffickers.

While stronger gun laws may not have prevented some of the recent incidents in our schools, it is a safe to say that some of the more than 10,000 Americans killed by guns last year would still be alive today.  The goal of today's conference is to prevent further tragedies in our schools and neighborhoods.  Enacting common sense gun laws will help accomplish this objective.