Sarasota, FL, Republican Vern Buchanan's legislation to toughen penalties against cop killers has passed the House, reports Florida Politics.

The "Thin Blue Line Act" would make the murder or attempted murder of a police officer, firefighter or other first responders an "aggravating" factor in death penalty determinations.

The bill, approved by the House in a 271-143 vote, now goes to the Senate for a vote.

"America's police officers and first responders are the first ones on-scene to help those in harm's way," Buchanan said. "These brave men and women and their families put it all on the line and deserve our unwavering support. Getting this bill signed into law will protect those who serve our communities and send a clear message: targeting or killing our first responders will not be tolerated."

More than a dozen state and national first responder organizations back Buchanan's bill, including NAPO, National Fraternal Order of Police, Major Counties Sheriffs of America, American Federation of Government Employees and others.

The Thin Blue Line Act would be applicable whether the person is murdered on duty, because of the performance of their duty, or because of their status as a public official. It covers federal, state and local police officers, firefighters and first responders.

The only requirement is that the homicide involve federal jurisdiction, such as the interstate homicide of an officer, or an officer killed on federal land, or while serving as part of a joint task force.

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