MSD shooting sparks gun control conversation

March 8, 2018

Since the shooting, students in Parkland and around the U.S. have taken control of the gun debate and are pressuring Congress to pass gun control legislation. They have appeared on TV through town halls and in the streets protesting as they continue to plan more marches in the coming weeks.

Students have been calling for a ban on assault-style weapons and tighter background checks, using this tragedy as a rallying cry for gun control at a national level.

Any kind of gun control under a Republican president would be monumental since the party’s base has always pressured lawmakers to support pro-gun legislation. But Trump is facing a different kind of pressure in the opposite direction–the voices of the surviving students of the Parkland shooting.

“‘Never Again’ means that we really want to make sure this never happens again. Gun legislation is just a part of it; we want increased background checks so that the people who really want to do a lot of damage with specific types of guns—and guns in general—can’t get their hands on guns,” Emma González, MSD student and co-founder of the Never Again MSD movement, said. “Specific guns, like military-grade weapons, assault rifles, semi-automatic weapons, would not be allowed to be purchased.”

The Republican-majority Florida Senate met on Monday and passed legislation to raise the legal age for purchasing a firearm to 21, allow authorities to take away guns from anyone with mental health problems and permit training for teachers to carry firearms in school. However, the bill rejected an amendment that would have banned assault rifles like the AR-15 gun that was used in the shooting.

“[Politicians are] too easily influenced by money, and they’re not listening to the people who voted them into office in the first place. They don’t seem to care about the young voters because they think that the old voters will hold them up, but they forget that the old voters are parents and that their kids are incredibly influential, especially at this point in time,” Emma said. “I can’t believe that bill got voted down yesterday… how stupid can you get? How stupid? We’re right here! And it got voted down! We’re going to remember their names.”

The idea of arming teachers resonated with President Trump, as he voiced his support for this measure during a gathering with governors at the White House on Monday. However, the idea has garnered controversy nationally as the proposal initially caused dismay.

“I feel that I would much rather see our government take on some more effective measures to eliminate automatic weapons and raise the age to 21 for the purchase of weapons. I would like to see better background checks, I would like to see better restrictions placed before we consider arming teachers,” Spanish teacher Diana Moss said. “I just think that having weapons in a place where kids could have access to them does not make schools a safer place.”

On Feb. 20, survivors of the deadly Florida high school shooting took on lawmakers and the National Rifle Association (NRA) at a heated town hall. The community affected by the shooting confronted Sen. Marco Rubio after he refused to support a ban on assault weapons and promised his continued support for the NRA and other organizations in favor of pro-gun legislation. A spokesperson from the NRA was also present at the town hall and advocated for the group’s pro-gun initiatives.

Despite these efforts, House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Monday that Republicans would focus on reducing law enforcement failures in the future rather than tighter gun control.

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