Tracey Austin may never erase the memory of so many innocent children lost in the Connecticut school shootings, but she can do something to reduce the chance of that kind of inhuman tragedy from happening in Georgia.
Austin said she and her advocacy group, Champions for Children, will press lawmakers to promise to make child safety a top priority.
"We're going to encourage each of the lawmakers to sign a pledge saying they will make child safety a priority for 2013 every single day they come to work."
Austin said her group will ask lawmakers to strengthen existing child sex, predator and trafficking laws, urge the assembly to pass a bill that would require FBI fingerprinting of all daycare workers and toughen the state's gun-control laws.
"Background checks, entry into buildings, laws as (they) relate to gun violence," Austin said. "We want them to look at everything."
Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said the agency is listening to the group's call and stepping up crackdowns on criminals who target children.
"Children live in a dangerous world, and we have to be ever-vigilant," Keenan said. "The prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes against children is our absolute priority."
When asked if he would support tougher gun laws, Keenan answered, "Gun control is a major policy issue that's not going to be decided by law enforcement."
While Keenan did not want to take a position on gun control, State Sen. Vincent Fort took a very strong stance.
"I'm going to introduce a bill to ban assault weapons," Fort said.
Fort, a Democrat, will have difficulty getting legislation to the floor of a House of Representatives dominated by Republicans.
Fort said the slim odds would not deter him from introducing his bills.
"I don't predicate what I do based on whether or not the other side is going to work against me," Fort said.
Austin said she wants lawmakers to dispense with partisanship and work together to keep Georgia's children safe.
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Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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