Republican leaders in Congress, turning away from significant gun control legislation, have shifted toward measures that would beef up security in schools, hoping the push will quell public uproar over the recent massacre in Parkland, Fl., reports the New York Times. As students and parents from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School continue their own organizing, the school safety strategy is unlikely to end the debate. Democrats and gun control advocates accuse Republicans and the National Rifle Association of using school safety to divert attention from what they see as the real issue: the proliferation of guns that have been used in mass shootings at concerts, in movie theaters, on college campuses, in churches and at workplaces, as well as at public schools. “This time, the gun rights crowd messed with the wrong community, the wrong kids and the wrong dad,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed at the school.
The House plans a vote next week on the STOP School Violence Act, a bill that would authorize $50 million annually for safety improvements, including training teachers and students in how to prevent violence and developing anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence. The bill from Rep. John Rutherford, a Republican and former sheriff from Jacksonville, Fl., is one of a flurry of bipartisan measures introduced in the House and the Senate devoted to school safety — without curbs on guns. A Senate bill would also give schools money for physical improvements, such as installing metal detectors or bulletproof doors. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the education committee, introduced his own measure, which would allow 100,000 public schools to use federal dollars for school counselors, alarm systems, security cameras and crisis intervention training. “The Republicans would like to have the public think they’re doing something and have the [National Rifle Association] think they’re doing nothing,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House.