Selected Highlights of Remarks by Steve Jensen, Chief Deputy District Attorney
Justice, Personal Responsibility, and the Rule of Law
  •  Rule of law is the concept that we are a government of laws and we are accountable to adhere to the laws as opposed to being accountable to individual leaders.
  •  Personal responsibility refers to an individual’s responsibility for conducting themselves in accord with the rule of law and being prepared to face consequences of not doing so.
  •  The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution establish a collective commitment across citizens to support each other in upholding justice and realizing rights enshrined in these documents
  •  As Abraham Lincoln famously stated “Right makes Might rather than Might making Right”
  •  Our government and justice system ensures that in exchange for giving up our some of our powers to the government, that we get safety and protection
School Safety and Gun Violence Prevention
  •  A key role for public prosecutors in addressing school shootings is to ensure that all people understand the responsibility they have to prevent such events from occurring and that all are held fully accountable for their actions
  • With complicated problems such as gun violence, we need to ask ourselves:
    • What are our priorities?
    • What do we want to achieve?
    • How do we put our sacred cows aside and move forward on common ground solutions?
  • There is no one single solution and we need to apply a range of measures in tackling these issues
Key Points from Table Discussions
Justice, Personal Responsibility, and the Rule of Law
  • Our society is becoming more individualistic rather than considering the common good. Strengthening the sense of community and connections with others is important to overcome individualism.
  • People asking “what’s my role in strengthening my community” and personally taking responsibility to act in a civil way can help solve gun violence and related problems.
  • Our understanding or rule of law and personal responsibility has changed. As civics is no longer taught in high school, maybe this is part of the problem.
  • Personal responsibility is the foundation to the rule of law. People’s willingness to take responsibility has been decreasing and we are more apt to ask someone else to take responsibility. We don’t know the cause of this shift, but recognize it and agree that individuals talking to each other helps build a collective commitment to personal responsibility.
School Safety and Gun Violence Prevention
  • Gun violence is more complicated than who has a gun and how mental health plays a role and we need to apply a holistic approach to addressing this issue.
  • We have a responsibility to actively support youth and their leadership in addressing gun violence and school safety
  • Making connections with students, providing teachers with resources, and parents with information about their children can help. We need to combat how school shooters might be seen as heroic
  • The safety of our schools and children is a high priority.  We need to tackle important questions about whether teachers should be armed, how to prevent kids from having access to guns, how to recognize and treat individuals with mental health issues, and improve school safety.
  • We need to find a middle ground where school are robustly protected but do not have an atmosphere of a prison with no freedom of movement or behavior.
  • We are a microcosm of the larger community and struggle to find consensus on these issues, but can focus on solutions in the center that most can embrace
  • It is a very complex problem that we don’t understand fully and the mistrust of science and research may make it harder for us to find answers
  • Opportunities may exist to incentivize school safety and mental health treatment systems at the local level