Stop School Violence Act Passes House With Near Unanimous Support

7,000 pairs of shoes placed on Capitol lawn

Florida Rep. John Rutherford, a former Jacksonville sheriff, sponsored the bill, which now goes to the Senate.

The Senate panel was considering a similar proposal to improve school safety, but a hearing Wednesday focused on law enforcement failures in Florida.

The STOP Act is the only legislation on track to gain congressional approval following the latest mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., last month.

The House bill passed on Wednesday would authorize $50m in grant funding for campus safety improvements, including training for local law enforcement and faculty and the development of an anonymous reporting system to identify early warning signs of potential threats.

The student walkouts, organized by the youth empowerment arm of the Women's March, were timed to coincide with the one-month anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting. 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 rally is part of a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence following the massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school.

Fifteen-year-old Chloe Appel of Gaithersburg, Maryland, held a sign that said, "Fix this before I text my mom from under a desk". And as they did, Congress responded-sort of. The two men have also teamed up on legislation that would encourage states to adopt so-called red flag laws, which would give law enforcement the authority to seize guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers addressed the crowd.

In the House, members voted to pass the STOP School Violence Act, a bill that reauthorizes a 2001 Justice Department program created to prevent school violence.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told the students that young people again are leading the nation, as they did during the civil rights and anti-war movements.

H.R. 4909 authorizes $75 million annually for grants that state and local schools can use to improve security.

Students rallying on Capitol Hill demanded much stronger measures than the House passed on Wednesday. If approved, the bill would be the first gun-related action by Congress since the February 14 attack at a Florida high school that left 17 dead.

"I would like to see ... any little step that we can get", Nelson said.

On Wednesday, a Senate panel grilled Federal Bureau of Investigation officials over the agency's failures to act on tips received about Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz.

"While we will never know if any such investigative activity would have prevented this tragedy, we clearly should have done more", Bowdich told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In one instance in September, an agent dismissed a tip about a YouTube posting, under Cruz's name, that said, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter", after the agent believed the true identity of the poster couldn't be determined, Bowdich said. He says he doesn't know why the "very explicit" tip from January 5 was not forwarded to local law enforcement.



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