U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, said Monday she'll introduce legislation to create a federal grant program for schools interested in installing metal detectors after the Feb. 14 Florida school shooting that took 17 lives.
In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Granger said the proposal — which she hopes to submit by the end of next week — would fully fund the installation for schools that have their detailed security plans approved by federal officials.
Granger said she was driven to action while listening to the “incredibly articulate” student survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“I thought … what can we do that's almost immediate?” she said. “To show the teachers and students that, yes, we can do something, and we really do care? We're not just saying, you know, ‘Isn't that awful?’ and walking away from it.”
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Her proposal, Granger said, would let local officials determine how best to improve safety for their schools. It would require interested schools to work with local law enforcement to qualify for the grant, and it would require approved schools to limit their entrances so the metal detectors provide protection.
The bill would authorize $500 million over 10 years for the federal grant program. It would then be up to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee to decide whether to fund the program each year.
Granger’s bill will join other pending legislation in Congress, such as a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that aims to fix the federal background check database for gun buyers by holding government agencies accountable for uploading relevant information. Another bill proposes a ban on “bump stocks,” which enable semi-automatic weapons to fire faster. And U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, are working on a proposal to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21 for non-military buyers.
Granger said her bill focuses on action that can be taken quickly, and that all of the proposals need to be carefully considered.
“Right now everything is on the table,” she said.
The representative, who was first elected in 1996, is the only female Republican serving in Congress from Texas. She has also been considered a serious contender for the Appropriations Committee chairmanship since U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey, announced his retirement.
Granger is running unopposed in the Republican March 6 primary for her district, and she will face Democrat Vanessa Adia in November.