WASHINGTON (AP) — 12:42 p.m.
Hundreds of students from the Washington area are rallying at the Capitol to urge stricter gun control laws. The rally is part of a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence following the massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school.
Fifteen-year-old Chloe Appel of Gaithersburg, Maryland, held a sign that said, "Fix this before I text my mom from under a desk." She's hopeful that Congress will enact gun control laws. She said that, "After today and after the next protest Congress will see how many people feel strongly about this so they will have to make a change."
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers addressed the crowd. The biggest applause by far was for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Students chanted his name and nearly drowned out his speech.
The White House says President Donald Trump strongly supports a school safety bill that would help school officials and law enforcement identify and prevent violence in schools. The bill authorizes $500 million over 10 years for state-based grants to improve training, threat assessments and coordination between schools and local law enforcement.
The House is set to vote on the measure Wednesday. If approved, the bill would be the first gun-related action by Congress since the Feb. 14 attack at a Florida high school that left 17 dead.
The White House said in a statement Wednesday that Trump's top priority is to keep the American people safe from those who wish to do them harm or to inflict terror upon them. The statement calls the bill a good step.