Hatch pushes bill to prevent school violence

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While House Democrats overwhelmingly supported the bill, they say the measure falls far short of what is needed to combat the scourge of mass shootings.

"What you saw today was a 407 to 10 vote to specifically start addressing the problem to stop school violence", he said. Orrin Hatch, second from left, who introduced the bill in the Senate, and Patrick Petty, 17, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., next to Hatch.

The National School Walkout lasted 17 minutes, one for each person killed exactly one month ago in a massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school. The rally was part of a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence following the Florida attack.

In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Florida shooting and failures by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement to act on warning signs displayed by the gunman before the attack. The legislation authorises US$50 million to intensify school security, pay for federal "threat assessment teams" to help school districts sort through reported threats, create an anonymous reporting system so that students and others can report threats and pay for training and technical assistance programmes for law enforcement and school officials to help identify potentially violent behaviour.

And while there were no gun industry witnesses at the first hearing since the shooting, they loom large in the debate and play a critical role in lobbying members of Congress and rallying their supporters across the country during elections.

"All across the country people are sick and exhausted of gun violence, and the time is now for all of us together to stand up to the NRA and pass common-sense gun legislation", Sanders said.

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"I don't know what we are waiting for", said Senator Kamala Harris, D. Protesters are demonstrating at the Capitol and in front of the White House on Wednesday. And while it received overwhelming bipartisan support―only 10 members opposed it―Democrats have sharply criticized GOP lawmakers for not doing more to curtail access to guns.

President Donald Trump cheered the House vote, tweeting that lawmakers "took major steps toward securing our schools by passing the STOP School Violence Act". John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and Democratic Sen. "But I'm anxious to pass both of them, and pass both of them soon".

A similar "Fix NICS" proposal awaits consideration in the Senate, but it is being held up by Republicans opposed to potential curbs on due process rights and Democrats pushing for a broader debate on gun control.

"This is about schools but it's not just about schools", Rubio told reporters Tuesday at a news conference about the Senate version of the bill.

"This important bill will help stop school violence before it happens", said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA-ILA. Increased funding for mental health programs and school security will have positive effects, but "mass shootings will not stop until we rid society of the weapons that make them possible", Katharine Posada told senators. "It is critical that we strengthen our laws in order to aid our law enforcement, address the needs of individuals struggling with serious mental illness, and develop proactive strategies for identifying and preventing violence in schools".

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