Congress Turns to School Safety After Florida Shooting

The initial focus is on boosting security in schools. Whether legislation involving guns will advance is uncertain.

Congress turns to school safety Wednesday,as students from more than 2,800 schools stage National School Walkout events urging lawmakers to do more about gun violence, USA Today reports. The House will take up a bill that would fund training for students, school personnel and law enforcement to detect early signs of violence. It would also fund threat assessments and “anonymous reporting systems” such as phone apps, hotlines and websites for threats of school violence. The Senate Judiciary Committee will analyze the government’s response to the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland, Fl., and discuss legislative proposals to improve school safety. Witnesses will include members of law enforcement agencies, a Parkland teacher and the father of a shooting victim.

Gun-control advocates hope for more from Congress than additional school security. They are calling for an expansion of background checks, a ban on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines, and other measures. “We want to make sure that we’re focusing on the issue of guns and gun reform,” said Madison Thomas, 20, a Georgetown University student helping manage the walkout. The student walkouts, organized by the youth empowerment arm of the Women’s March, fall on the one-month anniversary of the Florida mass shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he is “anxious” to pass significant school safety legislation and the “Fix NICS” bill to improve reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It’s unclear whether senators will act before they start a two-week recess on March 26.  Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), is blocking expedited consideration of “Fix NICS” over concerns it could encroach on gun rights without providing due process protections.