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U.S. House passes bipartisan bill to address school safety

Legislation was filed before Parkland but the shooting put it at front of agenda.
Rep. John Rutherford, R-Jacksonville, speaks at a news conference on Feb. 27, 2018, announcing legislation targeting school violence (Alex Leary | Times)
Rep. John Rutherford, R-Jacksonville, speaks at a news conference on Feb. 27, 2018, announcing legislation targeting school violence (Alex Leary | Times)
Published Mar. 14, 2018|Updated Mar. 14, 2018

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House nearly unanimously passed a bill that would boost improve school security following the Parkland shooting.

The bill was led by a bipartisan group, including Florida Reps. John Rutherford, R-Jacksonville, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.

"The bipartisan bill creates a grant program to train students, teachers, school officials, and local law enforcement how to identify and intervene early when signs of violence arise, construct anonymous reporting systems, and implement school threat assessment protocols to prevent school shootings before they occur," Rutherford's office said.

The legislation gained the support of the NRA, which said it would "give communities the tools they need to stop school violence through early intervention."

"I'm deeply grateful to Sandy Hook Promise for their tireless support for this legislation," Deutch said. "When we first introduced this bill, I had no idea it would hit so close to home for me and my community. This vote is proof that Congress can take bipartisan action to keep our children safe. However, my colleagues should not be mistaken to think this is enough. We cannot tackle the rampant gun violence in our country without addressing guns themselves. Let's move with this bipartisan momentum and pass meaningful legislation to make our communities safe."

Said Rutherford: "Today's vote in the House marks an important step toward keeping our children and our schools safe. As a career law enforcement officer in Jacksonville, I know that security requires a multi-layered approach. The STOP School Violence Act will give schools and communities the resources they need to identify threats and prevent acts of violence before they occur so we can avoid tragedies like what transpired at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a month ago today."

The Senate still has to vote and its version has also drawn bipartisan support, including Florida's Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson.

The House legislation was introduced in late January, a couple weeks before Parkland.

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