House backs school safety bill in response to Florida shooting
House backs school safety bill in response to Florida shooting
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15 March, 2018, 04:24
As students across the country protested congressional inaction on gun violence, the House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation to help schools identify potential threats - hours after an Federal Bureau of Investigation official told senators at a hearing about missed tips that pointed to the danger of the alleged Parkland, Fla. mass shooter.
The legislation provides funding for schools to develop crisis intervention teams and purchase technology and equipment to improve communication between law enforcement, students and school officials.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has a companion bill in the Senate that has also attracted bipartisan support.
Deputy FBI Director David Bowdich told a Senate committee that the agency "could have and should have done more" to investigate information it received prior to the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In Washington, global advocacy group Avaaz placed 7,000 pairs of shoes on the Capitol lawn to represent gun violence victims since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
The FBI received at least two credible tips that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a "desire to kill" and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate. For example, recipient schools could use the grant funds to implement an anonymous reporting system for students, train students and staff to identify early signs of violence, and improve the school's physical security features. She said that, "After today and after the next protest Congress will see how many people feel strongly about this so they will have to make a change".
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the bill will "support evidence-based violence prevention programs". Protesters are demonstrating at the Capitol and in front of the White House on Wednesday.
"I don't know what we are waiting for", said Senator Kamala Harris, D.
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House lawmakers voted 407-10 to approve a bill from Rep.
"This bill, on its own, is not the kind of meaningful congressional action needed to address this crisis of gun violence", Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, said in a statement. The bill does not, however, provide funding to arm teachers with firearms, though Democrats complained that the legislative text does not explicitly prohibit arming teachers.
Sam Blank and Alia Berry-Drobnich, both 14, said they skipped their 9th-grade classes Wednesday because what happened in Parkland made them afraid to go to school. She's hopeful that Congress will enact gun control laws.
"This is about schools but it's not just about schools", Rubio told reporters Tuesday at a news conference about the Senate version of the bill.
"There are things that we agree on and the notion that we should do everything we can to put in place systems to identify and to stop someone before they commit an act of violence ... is something we can all agree one", Sen.
In the House, lawmakers are set to pass the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, introduced by Congressman John Rutherford, R, a former sheriff from Jacksonville, Florida, and co-sponsored by Congressman Ted Deutch, D, whose district includes Parkland.
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