Congress Takes Action on School Safety

20180314-mrcmarch-canton105_1024

20180314-mrcmarch-canton105_1024

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of school safety measures on Wednesday - the same day as when students were walking out of classes all around the country to express support for the victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting and to call for more to be done to keep schools safe. The bill would provide new grants to train law enforcement and school personnel on the warning signs for school violence and how to intervene to prevent that violence. "The bill also provides for the creation of an anonymous reporting system to provide tips about potential attacks and persons who may be inclined to commit acts of violence on campus".

While House Democrats overwhelmingly supported the bill, they say the measure falls far short of what is needed to combat the scourge of mass shootings. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced companion legislation in the Senate, where it was met with similarly broad, bipartisan support.

The vote came one month after the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which a lone gunman killed 17 people.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appeared with students outside the Capitol at the rally to protest inaction by lawmakers to address gun violence.

In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Florida shooting and failures by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement to act on warning signs displayed by the gunman before the attack.

"Today, young people across the country are taking a stand and calling upon this Congress to do something about the scourge of gun violence that has terrorized our schools and our streets for too long".

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Congress must rally around "consensus, evidenced-based solutions" to protect young people from violent attacks. Protesters are demonstrating at the Capitol and in front of the White House on Wednesday. "It is critical that we strengthen our laws in order to aid our law enforcement, address the needs of individuals struggling with serious mental illness, and develop proactive strategies for identifying and preventing violence in schools". But it is unclear whether senators will get to the bills before they start a two-week recess on March 26 because other measures may consume floor time.

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Hundreds of students rallied outside the White House, calling out President Trump and the National Rifle Association with signs and chanting, "No more silence".

Subgrants to state or local law enforcement agencies, schools, school districts, nonprofit organizations, or Indian tribal organizations to implement grants awarded under the bill.

David Bowdich, the FBI's deputy director, said that such legislation would be helpful.

Bowdich says the tips occurred on September 25, 2017 and on January 5.

"The shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas is the worst-kept secret in Parkland; the school officials knew, law enforcement knew - they didn't do anything about it", said Ryan Petty, the father of Alaina and Patrick.

Almost 70 senators have signed on to a bill co-authored by Texas Republican John Cornyn, R-Tex., and Sen. "But I'm anxious to pass both of them, and pass both of them soon".

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