Politics & Policy

House Passes School-Safety Bill on One-Month Anniversary of Parkland

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) attend a news conference on Capitol Hill, February 14, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

The House overwhelmingly passed a bill on Wednesday to strengthen school safety across the country.

The STOP (Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing) School Violence bill passed 407–10 on the anniversary of the deadly Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Meanwhile, outside the Capitol and across the country, students staged school walkouts to remember the 17 lives lost in Parkland and call for action on gun control.

The House bill includes no gun-control measures, and while Democrats supported the legislation, they said it does not do nearly enough to end school shootings.

“This is a pretense that we are doing something while assuring the NRA that we aren’t doing anything,” minority whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) told reporters.

“This is a good bill, but it will not solve our gun problem. It won’t ban bump stocks, or fix our background system, or get weapons of war off our streets,” said Representative Ted Deutch (D., Fla.), who cosponsored the legislation.

Representative John Rutherford (R., Fla.), a former sheriff, introduced the bill, which sets aside $50 million a year for a federal program to train students, teachers, and law enforcement in school-safety procedures. The program will also set up anonymous telephone lines and Internet sites where people can report safety threats. Another $25 million will pay for schools to tighten their physical security, for example by installing new locks and metal detectors.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) has proposed a similar bill pending in the upper chamber. Republicans are waiting on an actual gun-control bill until they are sure the Senate can pass it, however.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an investigative hearing on the Parkland shooting to try to figure out why the FBI and other authorities failed to respond to warning signs about young gunman Nikolas Cruz’s mental health.

“We must hold government to account for its failures, and make sure plans are in place to avoid future tragedies. And we must rally around consensus, evidenced-based solutions that will protect our nation’s most valuable resource — its youth — from violent attacks,” said Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa).

In Parkland’s aftermath, President Trump has said he wants to ban bump stocks, reform the background-check system, and improve America’s efforts to treat the mentally ill.