Florida lawmakers consider gun measures as calls for tougher laws intensify

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Florida lawmakers are mulling a series of proposals in response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that triggered an outcry for accountability and reform.

With the last day of the state’s legislative session set for March 9, the clock is ticking for lawmakers amid pressure from young survivors of the shooting, who converged in Tallahassee Monday.

Hundreds of Floridians, including Stoneman Douglas students, converged on the state Capitol Monday in an event called Rally in Tally calling for stronger gun laws.

“My generation is saying, ‘Will I survive another day? Will I be shot in a movie theater or a concert?'” said Houston Barenholtz, 18. “We’re supposed to be protecting these places and now we’re getting shot at.”

Participants had listed a permanent ban on assault-style rifles as one of its aims, but that prospect was dashed Monday.

An amendment to a Florida bill that would have banned assault-style rifles like the one used in the Parkland shooting failed in a vote by a Florida senate subcommittee. Disappointed demonstrators in orange shirts who are pushing for gun safety, pointed their finger at the lawmakers and chanted “shame” and “vote them out.”

The Florida Democratic Party slammed the vote as “a shame that Governor [Rick] Scott and Tallahassee Republicans continue to do the bidding of the gun lobby, instead of listening to the chorus of voices asking for common sense gun legislation.”

The subcommittee rejected the proposal, which was an amendment to Senate Bill 7022. The bill, which lets law enforcement seize firearms from people under certain conditions, advanced without the amendment.

What’s happening on the state level

Two more proposals advanced in Florida’s Capitol Monday. They are SB 7026, which relates to active shooter policies, including the creation of a voluntary program that provides “firearm safety and proficiency training for selected faculty and staff strategically focused on providing security” in attacks, and SB 702, which creates an exemption to public record laws for a victim’s address in mass violence on school grounds.

On Tuesday, Parkland parents are expected in Tallahassee to talk to lawmakers and advocate for gun safety measures, reported CNN affiliate WSVN.

“It’s not about the guns, and it’s not about the mental health, and it’s not about the school safety — it’s about it all.” Stoneman Douglas parent Randi Weisselberg told the station. “I want it all put together.”

There are at least five Parkland-related bills for debate before the Florida House and Senate appropriations committee Tuesday morning.

What’s happening on the national level

In Washington, the push for new regulation and significantly strengthened background checks appeared to lose political momentum as lawmakers filtered back to the Senate and the House.

US President Donald Trump is set to meet with lawmakers on Wednesday, the White House said. But sources close to the discussions said it appears he is backing away from his call to increase the age limit to 21 for some weapons.

What’s happening on the county level

On Tuesday morning, the Broward County Commissioners will consider several issues involving the shooting at Stoneman Douglas.

Commissioners are slated to discuss creating a task force to evaluate all aspects of the shooting at the school. It’s also urging the state to pass “commonsense gun control policy” and to get funds to demolish the building where the shooting occurred. The proposal is to rebuild and also have a memorial to honor the 17 lives lost.

The building will remain closed as students return to campus this week.

Robert Runcie, superintendent of Broward County Public Schools told CNN they have no date when the building will be torn down.

“It will need to be coordinated with State Attorney’s Office as it is a crime scene and may be used in legal proceedings,” he said.

Preparing for classes

Classes are scheduled to resume at Stoneman Douglas Wednesday.

Teachers returned to campus Monday and are back Tuesday for planning days.

History teacher Greg Pittman told CNN that teachers are stressed about being able to do the right things for their students.

“Some of the teachers had students die in the room, and we were meeting with district personnel to try to advise us, and people were just really stressed about having the right thing to say, the right thing to do,” he said.

“I think the best thing that all of us as teachers can do is be ourselves, to let our students know we’re there for them, that we love and care for them.”

Meanwhile, three victims who were injured in the shooting remain hospitalized in fair condition as of Monday, according to the Broward Health Systems.


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