A panel advanced proposed legislation to the South Carolina Senate floor Tuesday that would toughen the penalty for threatening a school or student.
The Judiciary Committee approved the legislation in a 22-0 vote. It would toughen the penalties for anyone who threatens to harm or cause damage, injury or death to a student or at a school with a dangerous weapon or instrument.
State Sen. Sandy Senn, R-Charleston, said she sponsored the bill to fight copycat threats after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month. “This particular bill… would hit the nail on the head,” she said during Tuesday’s hearing.
Since the shooting, there have been repeated threats to schools and students across South Carolina.
The legislation would require anyone accused of threatening a school to be given a mental health assessment. “If the mental evaluation reveals that the person needs mental health treatment or counseling the solicitor may refer him to Mental Health Court,” Senn said. She added the evaluation would be an effort to get help for some students instead of sentencing them to prison.
Senn said there is no specific state law against threatening a school beyond threatening to use explosives.
The bill now goes to the Senate floor for debate.