The House will vote next week on a bill aimed at protecting U.S. schools from acts of gun violence, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) said Tuesday, marking the first legislative action in Congress to respond to the Feb. 14 massacre at a Parkland, Fla., high school.
The bill in question is the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, introduced last week by Reps. John Rutherford (R-Fla.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), with more than 30 co-sponsors. The legislation has the backing of Sandy Hook Promise, a group formed by parents of victims of the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and a similar measure has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).
The legislation reauthorizes a bipartisan program created in 2001 through the Justice Department to prevent threats to schools. It also authorizes $50 million annually to beef up school security, fund federal “threat assessment teams” meant to help schools comb through reported threats, create anonymous reporting systems to collect those reports from students and others, and fund training and technical assistance for schools and law enforcement to help identify warning signs of potentially violent behavior.
What the bill does not include is any provision relating to firearms. Surviving students from Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have demanded action on gun control in the weeks since the shooting, calling for a ban on military-style rifles such as the one used in the Florida attack, among other provisions.
McCarthy said Tuesday that the school-security bill complements another piece of gun legislation, the Fix NICS Act, that the House passed in December as part of a larger gun bill that included National Rifle Association-backed legislation that would force states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states. The Fix NICS measure is meant to improve reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is used to vet gun buyers. That bill could get a Senate vote in the coming weeks, though Democratic leaders are pushing to pass more aggressive legislation that would expand the use of background checks and perhaps reinstitute a federal assault weapons ban.
McCarthy also said FBI officials would visit the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next week to address law enforcement failures surrounding the Parkland shooting and to discuss “corrections” so that a shooting like the one in Parkland “could never repeat itself again.” Neither committee, however, has announced a formal hearing on the matter.
FBI officials are expected to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 14, according to an announcement last week by panel Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).