Under pressure, House passes underwhelming bill on gun violence

Image: Students sit for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 students killed last month
Thousands of local students sit for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 students killed last month in a high school shooting in Florida, during a nationwide...

When it comes to the nation's debate over guns, it's hard to miss the direction of the prevailing winds. Gallup released a report yesterday that found two-thirds of American adults want new restrictions on the sale of firearms -- the strongest support for gun restrictions in 25 years.

The same day as the poll's release, tens of thousands of students across the country participated in a walkout protesting gun violence. Exactly one month after the mass shooting in south Florida, the young activists protested for 17 minutes -- one for each of the victims in Parkland -- and organizers said the purpose was to highlight "Congress' inaction against the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods."

It was against this background that the Republican-led House did, in fact, approve legislation related to guns. It is, however, a very modest measure. Roll Call  reported:

It's not quite one and done, but the bill the House passed Wednesday to provide grants for schools to implement safety protocols and training is likely the last action GOP leaders will take this Congress in response to a recent spate of mass shootings.The House passed, 407-10, a bipartisan measure by Florida Republican John Rutherford called the Student, Teacher's Officer's Prevention (STOP) School Violence Act.

The full roll call is online here.

To be sure, there's nothing especially wrong with the bill. As Roll Call's report explained, the proposal would "authorize $50 million in grant funding for schools to conduct training to prevent student violence, set up anonymous reporting systems for threats and implement other safety protocols."

That said, as a Vox piece added, the bill "doesn't address guns in any substantive way." It's likely why the proposal was able to get a vote in the far-right chamber and pass without much of a fuss.

So what happens now? House GOP leaders have signaled they have no intention of taking up additional legislation on guns, at least not without Senate action.

In the upper chamber, there's been some chatter about a modest background-check bill -- the NICS measure we discussed last month -- but ongoing Republican skepticism has delayed consideration of the proposal, despite the fact that it has 60 Senate supporters.

Even if it were to pass, there's no reason to assume it could clear the House, where Republicans have tried to tie it to a measure that make it easier for gun owners with concealed carry permits to carry to firearms across state lines, regardless of state laws.

Or put another way, those activists who protested yesterday have reason to keep the pressure on.