Florida school shooting survivors to travel 400 miles to press for gun law change

Florida school shooting survivors to travel 400 miles to press for gun law change

Some 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will travel 400 miles to Florida's capital today to urge politicians to act to prevent a repeat of the massacre that killed 17 students and teachers last week.

The students plan to hold a rally on Wednesday in the hope that it will put pressure on the state's Republican-controlled legislature to consider a sweeping package of gun-control laws, something some GOP politicians said on Monday they would consider.

Shortly after the shooting, several legislative leaders were taken on a tour of the school to see the damage firsthand.

"I really think they are going to hear us out," said Chris Grady, a 19-year-old student who is going on the trip. He said he hoped the trip would lead to some "commonsense laws like rigorous background checks".

Florida school shooting survivors to travel 400 miles to press for gun law change

The attack last Wednesday seemed to overcome the resistance of some in the state's leadership, which has rebuffed gun restrictions since Republicans took control of both the governor's office and the Legislature in 1999.

However, there is still strong resistance by many in the party to any gun-control measures, leaving the fate of new restrictions unclear.

Students have also vowed to exert pressure on Congress as the aftermath of the rampage resonates beyond Florida and from coast to coast.

Florida school shooting survivors to travel 400 miles to press for gun law change

Hundreds of chanting protesters converged on Monday on a downtown Los Angeles park, demanding tougher background checks and other gun-safety measures after the shooting.

Some signs held up by the California demonstrators read: "Your Children Are Counting On You."

Senator Bill Galvano, a Republican and the incoming Florida senate president, said the state Senate was preparing a package that would include raising the age to purchase any firearm to 21, creating a waiting period for purchasing any type of firearm, banning bump stocks that can allow semi-automatic guns to spray bullets quickly and creating gun-violence restraining orders.

Authorities said suspect Nikolas Cruz, 19, had a string of run-ins with school authorities that ended with his expulsion.

Florida school shooting survivors to travel 400 miles to press for gun law change

Police also were repeatedly called to his house throughout his childhood. Cruz's lawyers said there were repeated warning signs that he was mentally unstable and potentially violent. Yet he is alleged to have legally purchased a semi-automatic rifle.

"We need to make sure everything is working and to learn from the experience," said Mr Galvano, who was among those who visited the school.

The Senate is also considering boosting spending on mental health programmes for schools and giving law-enforcement greater power to involuntarily hold someone considered a danger to themselves.

Florida school shooting survivors to travel 400 miles to press for gun law change

The body will also look at a proposal to deputise a teacher or someone else at school so they are authorised to have a gun.

Mr Galvano said senators wanted to examine ways to protect schools that do not have resource officers - often armed law enforcement officers - on site.

But some Republicans questioned whether additional gun restrictions were the answer.

"I really don't want to see this politicised into a gun debate," Republican Senator Dennis Baxley said.

Referring to gun-control advocates, he said: "Sometimes I wish they were right, that this would fix it, but it won't ... We have a terrible problem with obesity, but we're not banning forks and spoons."

Cruz made his first appearance in court on Monday. Wearing a prison jumpsuit, he kept his head down and did not appear to make eye contact with the judge or others in the courtroom, though he responded briefly to someone on the defence team.

Since the attack, students from the school have become increasingly vocal in their demands for gun-control measures.

Many have pointed out politicians who take financial support from the National Rifle Association, and some have lashed out at US president Donald Trump, saying he was busy blaming Democrats for failing to pass gun restrictions while taking no action of his own.

After staying largely mum in the last few days about the massacre and the escalating debate about weapons, Mr Trump said on Monday that he was supportive of a bipartisan effort to strengthen federal background checks for gun purchases.

Students are also calling for anti-gun violence demonstrations in Washington and other cities on March 24.

Organisers behind the anti-Trump Women's March called for a 17-minute nationwide walkout by teachers and students on March 14, and a gun-control group was calling for a rally to ban assault weapons on Wednesday at the Florida Capitol.

More on this topic

How a grieving mum turned her anger into a force for goodHow a grieving mum turned her anger into a force for good

Man pleads guilty over deadly Florida airport shootingMan pleads guilty over deadly Florida airport shooting

US shooting victim's father sues deputy who did not enter schoolUS shooting victim's father sues deputy who did not enter school

Teacher at gun massacre school 'compared student to Hitler'Teacher at gun massacre school 'compared student to Hitler'

More in this Section

Grandfather killed in stabbing yards from home after pint in local London pubGrandfather killed in stabbing yards from home after pint in local London pub

At least 5 people dead after helicopter and small plane collide in MajorcaAt least 5 people dead after helicopter and small plane collide in Majorca

Paris marks 75 years since liberation from NazisParis marks 75 years since liberation from Nazis

Brexit deal prospects ‘touch and go’, Boris Johnson claimsBrexit deal prospects ‘touch and go’, Boris Johnson claims


Lifestyle

It hasn’t been the ideal summer for observing the skies, but as we move into September we live in that almost annual hope of an Indian summer, writes Niall Smith.Skymatters: Enjoy the last of the summer stars and check out 'Vega'

Actually the lights were on when I got dressed this morning, says Luke Rix-Standing.11 things you’ll only know if you have no sense of style

Robert Hume unveils the Irishwoman who became the world’s first car accident fatality.Did you know an Irishwoman was the world’s first car accident fatality ... in 1869

Meet Lisa O’Doherty, the chief sommelier at The K Club.You've Been Served: Lisa O'Doherty of The K Club on life as a chief sommelier

More From The Irish Examiner