As thousands of students across the country rallied in support of gun control in a national “walkout” this week, House lawmakers voted to pass a bill aimed at curbing violence in schools. The measure notably contains zero gun-related provisions.
The House voted 407-10 on Wednesday to pass the STOP School Violence Act, which would provide schools with the means to train staff, and local law enforcement to address mental health issues, develop systems to report threats, and implement preventative measures. The vote comes one month after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead. It is the first major vote addressing school violence since the shooting.
The bill is backed by both parties, as well as the Trump administration and the National Rifle Association (NRA). In a video tweeted by the NRA Wednesday morning, NRA Institute for Legislative Action’s executive director Chris Cox said, “Passing new gun control laws won’t protect our kids … Let’s work together to secure our schools and stop school violence.”
Let's work together to secure our schools and stop school violence. We protect our banks, our sports stadiums and our government buildings better than we protect our schools. That must change. #StopSchoolViolenceAct #DefendTheSecond #NRA pic.twitter.com/98dWIv0giM
— NRA (@NRA) March 14, 2018
While National School Walkout protesters have called for banning assault weapons and expanded background checks, this measure does none of that. Several Democratic lawmakers addressed the bill’s shortcomings prior to the vote.
“Today, young people across the country are taking a stand and calling upon this Congress to do something about the scourge of gun violence that has terrorized our schools and our streets for too long. This bill fails to do so and it should not — it cannot — be our only response to their demands,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on the House floor.
He added, “We must make schools safer, but the best way to do that is to do more to prevent gun violence from occurring in the first place … It is not enough to say that staff and students must do more to protect themselves.”
A companion measure is currently awaiting consideration in the Senate, although it differs in one major respect: unlike the House bill, the Senate version bars any of the funding from being used to arm teachers or provide them with training, a goal of the Trump administration.
Like its House companion, the Senate bill also has bipartisan support.