House GOP tried to remove the word 'shooting' from a bill about school shootings


Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) tried to water down a bill to address school shootings by removing the word 'shooting.'

North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx and her fellow Republicans on the House Education Committee failed Wednesday to remove references to school shootings from a bill designed to collect information on school shootings.

The committee was discussing H.R. 4301, a bill that would require the Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services to publish an annual report on school crime and safety, including data on school shootings.

But Foxx wasn't having it. She offered an amendment that stripped out all references to school shootings, arguing that collecting information about children being shot was too "complex."

Democrats on the committee were taken aback by an effort to water down a bill meant to protect children from gun violence.

"What are my Republican colleagues simply afraid of?" Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), a congresswoman who lost her only son to gun violence, asked while debating the Republican amendment. "Are you afraid that the federal data on gun violence will confirm what we know to be true? Gun violence in America is a public epidemic that has to be solved. Any other public health epidemic, we would be putting forth all the resources, all the data, all the research to solve it."

Looking up from her notes, McBath became emotional.

"I think this amendment is cowardly," she said. "It's insulting to the hundreds of thousands of Americans that are impacted by gun violence every single day."

McBath was not the only Democrat to take umbrage at Foxx's amendment.

"I oppose this amendment because it is gutless," Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), a former teacher of the year, said. "It is insulting to the work we are trying to do. This amendment goes so far as to delete the word 'shooting' from the bill," she noted, adding the amendment "takes away the spirit of the underlying bill."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) asked why Republicans are "afraid" to collect data about gun violence in schools and whether refusal to collect this data "is about ensuring that we never have enough data... to define gun violence as a public health epidemic. Which it is."

In the end, Foxx's amendment was defeated by a 25-22 vote, with Republicans lining up in support and Democrats opposing. The bill passed the committee by a 27-22 vote, making the next step a vote by the full House.

In February, the full House passed two pieces of gun safety legislation, the first such bills in a generation. While both received some support from Republicans, both passed despite overwhelming opposition from the GOP and unanimous support from Democrats.

Both those bills have been blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for more than 200 days.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.