By Message Staff
WASHINGTON, D.C. – All six members of Louisiana’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act, which was passed March 14 by a vote of 407-10.
The legislation would provide funding for violence prevention training, greater coordination with law enforcement members and improved school security technology. Next, the bill heads to the Senate for consideration.
U.S. Reps. Mike Johnson, Ralph Abraham and Steve Scalise were among 100 representatives to co-sponsor the bill. Johnson is a member of First Baptist Church in Bossier City and Abraham is a member of Alto Baptist Church.
“Ensuring our children’s safety is of the utmost importance, and we are acting in Congress to ensure students are protected while at school,” Johnson said in a written statement. “Putting an end to school violence begins with noticing the warning signs and knowing how to proceed when they are present. The STOP School Violence Act educates students, school officials and local law enforcement on how to prevent tragedies before they happen. I am proud to have supported this legislation and look forward to continuing our efforts on this front.”
Abraham said in a statement to the Baptist Message the bill is a tangible step in the right direction to create a safer place for students and teachers.
“Its broad bipartisan support shows that Congress can address the problems we face without letting politics get in the way,” Abraham said. “Safety for our children is something that all Americans support, and I’m very glad that the House was able to move this legislation forward.”
Steve Scalise, the U.S. House majority whip, said in a time when Americans are demanding action, Congress answered by addressing the problem with what he considers a strong bill to equip students, teachers and law enforcement with more tools to actively identify a potential shooter before another tragedy occurs.
“What we saw in Parkland was an example of so many breakdowns in government – at the federal level with the FBI, at the local level with local law enforcement – when so many students knew this was going to happen,” Scalise said in a statement on his website. “I think the thing that irritates people the most is that something wasn’t done to stop it before it did happen. We need to focus on stopping those tragedies before they happen, as Sheriff Rutherford said.
“I want to commend Sheriff Rutherford for his leadership to put a coalition together that was incredibly bipartisan. What you saw today was a 407 to 10 vote to specifically start addressing the problem to stop school violence,” he continued. “I think that overwhelming bipartisan vote shows how serious this bill is. Clearly, there are more things that need to be done, but this is one of those things that actually gets to the heart of addressing the problem to stop school violence before a tragedy happens.”
Clay Higgins, a captain with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office before his election to the U.S. House, called the bill a step in the right direction to address the culture surrounding school safety.
“A need still exists for comprehensive data regarding which security assets are deployed at each of the 95,000-plus public schools in America, and further, tactical training standards for school security must be established,” Higgins said in a statement on his website.
“I have introduced legislation which provides that data, which should be used to direct any funding and resources allocated by Congress. We can then empower schools and local law enforcement officers with the resources and tactical training required to protect our kids and teachers,” Higgins’ statement continued. “This effort to harden schools from potential threats is ongoing, and I will continue to engage in this fight for reform measures that ensure school safety while preserving the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”