Federal

Congress Again Tries to Pass Eagles Act, Focused on School Shootings After Parkland

By Devoun Cetoute & Carli Teproff, Miami Herald — February 24, 2021 2 min read
Suzanne Devine Clark, an art teacher at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, places painted stones at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2019 during the first anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

A group of bipartisan Congressional lawmakers is once again trying to get a law passed aimed at preventing school violence.

On Tuesday, the group introduced the Eagles Act, which lawmakers have failed to pass in previous years. The act, named after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mascot, honors the 17 people who lost their lives in the February 2018 mass shooting at the Parkland high school.

If enacted, the act would expand the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center to have a greater focus on school violence prevention nationally.

The NTAC was created in 1998 to develop indicators for various types of targeted violence, including school violence. Since 2002, the Secret Service has trained 198,000 school officials.

“The U.S. Secret Service has unique and unparalleled experience in identifying threats to safety and preventing tragedies,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a news release. “This bill builds on the Secret Service’s case study research on targeted school violence and enables the National Threat Assessment Center to train more of our nation’s schools in how to conduct threat assessments and early interventions.”

The legislation was reintroduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. House Representatives Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.).

“As I have continuously stated, school safety is a top priority of mine, and I will not cease in my efforts to make our schools a safer place,” said Diaz-Balart in a news release. “The EAGLES Act is an essential step toward better protecting our communities, our schools, and our children from potential acts of targeted violence.”

Deutch, who represents Parkland, agreed that something needs to be done.

“The federal government has a role to play in school safety, and we should be leveraging our best resources to keeping our kids safe,” said Deutch in a news release. “By building on the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center model, schools and community leaders can receive training on how to prevent and respond to school violence.”

The Senate companion bill was introduced by Senators Grassley, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine.).

“I’m pleased to again join my colleagues in reintroducing the EAGLES Act,” Rubio said in a release. “The EAGLES Act leverages the National Threat Assessment Center to provide a proactive and multi-pronged approach to identify and stop threats of school violence. I thank Senator Grassley for his continued leadership on this legislation, and the Senate should quickly pass this bill.”

The EAGLES Act had been introduced in 2018 and 2019. The 2019 act had sponsorship from Deutch and Grassley. The House bill had 25 co-sponsors and the Senate bill had seven. Both bills were only introduced. No other action was taken.

Copyright (c) 2021, Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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