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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
In the wake of a Texas school shooting that has claimed at least 21 lives, Iowa’s U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is calling for expanding the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center with a greater focus on school violence prevention.
“We've got to keep our schools safe. We can't waste another day,” the Iowa Republican told reporters Wednesday.
Grassley made his remarks in response to an 18-year-old gunman barricading himself in an Uvalde, Texas, classroom and killing at least 19 children and two teachers.
The Secret Service conducts threat assessments in other areas, Grassley said, and his Eagles Act would expand its role to include school violence prevention. The bill is named for the mascot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., site of another mass shooting in February 2018.
The legislation, which Grassley reintroduced earlier this year with bipartisan support and the backing of 40 state attorneys general, would proactively mitigate threats of violence on school campuses by reauthorizing and expanding the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center.
The center studies targeted violence and develops best practices and training to identify and manage threats before they result in violence.
The bill would establish a national program on school violence prevention that will include expanded research. It also would allow the Secret Service to equip communities and schools with training and best practices on recognizing and preventing school violence.
“It would help us proactively identify and manage these threats before they occur,” said Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sioux City state Sen. Jim Carlin, who is running against Grassley in the June 7 primary, tweeted: “Our hearts break for the families of those whose lives were lost in the senseless shooting in Texas earlier today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.”
Democrats hoping to run against Grassley, who is seeking re-election, say he’s waited too long to take action.
“How many gunshot corpses does it take for you to vote for responsible firearm ownership legislation?” Sioux City Democratic Mike Franken asked Grassley on social media. “The voters are waiting for a number …”
Former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Cedar Rapids said the slayings left her heartbroken.
“But, folks, I am pissed off,” she said in a campaign appearance Tuesday evening.
Finkenauer recalled being 10 years old at the time of the Columbine school shooting in 1999 when Grassley had been in Washington 23 years.
“Sen. Grassley has sat there another 24 years in Washington, D.C., … and hasn't done a dang thing to stop it,” she said. “He has changed nothing. He has done nothing.”
A third Democratic candidate, Glenn Hurst of Minden, called for new hate crime laws and "common sense gun laws," such as banning assault weapons and limiting access to ammunition. He made his comments during a recent debate when asked about a shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., that claimed 10 lives.
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