As Students Call for Massive Gun Reform, the House Offers Them Crumbs

James Logan High School students hold signs honoring students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as they stage a die in and observe a moment of silence during a walk out demonstration on March 14, 2018 in Union City, California.
Image: Getty

On Wednesday, as thousands of students staged walk-outs to protest gun violence in America, adults in the House of Representatives made a far less impressive attempt to reckon with the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month.

ABC News reports that the bipartisan measure, the STOP School Violence Act, will inject $50 million in federal grants administered by the Department of Justice to “fund training and other initiatives intended to enhance school safety,” and to add “metal detectors, stronger locks, and emergency notification and response technologies for schools to notify law enforcement of emergencies.”

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But it’s unclear if these measures actually make schools meaningfully safer, researchers say. “We were really surprised about how little evidence of efficacy there was,” Heather Schwartz, a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation who led a Department of Justice-backed study analyzing the impact of enhancing physical security measures like locks, alarms, and video monitoring, told the Boston Globe earlier this month. “We were eager to find someone with evidence of effectiveness, and we just did not find that.”

One of the bill’s sponsors, Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents Parkland’s district, admitted that the bill “will not solve our gun problem,” but considered it a start.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat who voted for the measure, remained more critical. “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,” he said. “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. Congress must do more to stop gun violence. It is not enough to say that staff and students must do more to protect themselves.”

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Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is a senior reporter at Jezebel.

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