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Protests lead to tighter gun control

Since the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the discourse over how to prevent more shootings has put the gun control debate in the forefront once again. The survivors of the shooting, as well as others in their community, have been protesting locally on the steps of the Florida State Capitol and nationally in Washington D.C.

The protesters are calling for stricter gun regulations, particularly for different models of the AR-15 style rifle used in the Parkland shooting.

On Tuesday Feb. 20, while teens were protesting outside the Capitol and watching from the viewing deck, the Florida State House voted down a provision which would’ve banned semi-automatic guns and high capacity magazines. The measure failed, with 36 votes in the affirmative and 71 in the negative.

On March 5, the Florida Senate passed a law that raises the purchasing age to 21, bans bump stocks and requires a three day waiting period.

Despite the rejection in the State House, notable Floridians are proposing other gun control measures.

In a CNN town hall in Jupiter, Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R) both showed support for raising the firearm purchasing age from 18 to 21. President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott shared the same sentiments. Scott included the mentally ill as those who, under his plan, would be barred from purchasing a firearm.

“No one with mental issues should have access to guns,” said Scott. “It’s common sense, and it is in their own best interest – not to mention the interests of our communities. And much of what I’m proposing involves giving law enforcement the ability to stop people from harming themselves and others, while giving them the tools to keep our schools safe.”

The Florida Senate decided to propose legislation as well. A bill passed committee to raise the firearms purchasing age to 21, but the same committee also voted down a bill eliminating “assault weapons.” The bill is intended to be amendatory to the failed House bill.

According to The Data Team at The Economist, 58 percent of Americans are in favor of banning semi-automatic weapons. For magazines holding ten rounds or more, 62 percent of respondents are in favor of banning them.

The rhetoric on both sides of the gun argument is heating up, as well.

Leftist director, filmmaker and commentator Michael Moore took to Twitter to share his thoughts.

“The NRA is a terrorist organization. The media should speak of the NRA in the same way they do ISIS,” said Moore.

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre spoke out at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

“If they seize power … our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever,” said LaPierre. “The first to go will be the Second Amendment.”

On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Paul Ryan said publicly that “we shouldn’t be banning guns for law- abiding citizens. We do know there are gaps in the background check system that need to be plugged. We passed a bill to do that and we think that should get done clearly.”

Companies have begun distancing themselves from the gun-rights position. Walmart led the way in enacting new policy as they will no longer sell firearms to anyone under 21. Dick’s Sporting Goods announced they will also raise the purchasing age and will no longer be selling “assault-style weapons.” Delta and United Airlines will no longer be offering discounts to NRA members. But FedEx will continue the discount.

In a recent bipartisan meeting, Trump signaled a potential shift in gun policy. He has already shown support for a ban on bump stocks, and also said he would be open to raising the firearm purchasing age to 21. In the meeting, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein reacted very positively after Trump said he wanted to see an assault weapons ban in a school safety Senate bill. Additions to Feinstein’s underlying bill would ban over 200 weapons ranging from AR-15 style weapons, as well as certain handguns, shotguns and hunting rifles.

After lots of backlash, Trump took to Twitter to try and ease the fears of conservatives.

“Many ideas, some good & some not so good, emerged from our bipartisan meeting on school safety yesterday at the White House,” said Trump. “Background Checks a big part of conversation. Gun free zones are proven targets of killers. After many years, a Bill should emerge. Respect Second Amendment!”