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House passes school safety bill amid student protests

15 March 2018

As numerous other lawmakers backing the bill have cautioned, Hatch said he views the Stop School Violence Act as only part of the solution. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he is "extremely interested" in passing a school safety bill along with a narrow background check bill, but he is still trying to figure out a path forward.

The White House came out in support of the Stop School Violence Act as part of its plan to address school shootings, which was announced on Sunday.

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.

The STOP School Violence Act aims to connect students and teachers with law enforcement officers so warning signs can be acknowledged and addressed before a violent incident occurs.

The bill, which is backed by the NRA, would fund training for students, school personnel and law enforcement to detect early signs of violence.

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"This Congress can not continue to do nothing, because nothing means more lives are lost, including the youngest and the most vulnerable among us", said Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary panel. "This bill fails to do so, and it should not - it can not - be our only response to their demands", Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said. Instead, it attempts to prevent school violence by providing funding for things like creating an anonymous reporting system, mental health crisis training, and deterrents, like metal detectors. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said more and more families are being victimized by mass shootings since a ban on certain semi-automatic weapons she authored expired in 2004.

At the Judiciary Committee hearing, lawmakers discussed several proposals including one with bipartisan support that calls for "extreme risk protection orders" to restrict access to firearms by those who pose an imminent danger to themselves or others.

"There wasn't just one failure on February 14 (in Parkland, Florida) and as such, there isn't just one solution", said Davis.

Since the shooting, the Federal Bureau of Investigation admitted that it had received several tips that Cruz meant to commit a violent act or was displaying disturbing behavior, but the agency failed to investigate the claims.

Bowdich says the Federal Bureau of Investigation "will not hide" from its mistakes.

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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. "That said, I'm not sure we could have stopped the attack".

Almost 70 senators have signed on to a bill co-authored by Texas Republican John Cornyn, R-Tex., and Sen. Nadler, who voted in favor of the bill, further warned that the legislation lacks due process protections for students against whom a report is made. "But I'm anxious to pass both of them, and pass both of them soon".

"People always say kids are the future", Blank said, outside the White House.

Berry-Drobnich said while legislative efforts to improve school safety were good steps, it wasn't enough.

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House passes school safety bill amid student protests