Possible Changes in Gun Control After Florida School Shooting
By Catherling Doolan
Two weeks after the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, survivors and gun control activists are seeking gun control efforts from lawmakers. In particular, the survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are as energized as ever, organizing protests—including an upcoming national school walkout—and calling on lawmakers to support stricter gun control measures.
The impassioned students are demanding change and refusing to accept what they’ve seen as empty pledges made by lawmakers following school shootings. President Trump and his administration have shown their interest in reaching reform, as illustrated by the White House’s recent hosting of bipartisan lawmakers to discuss reform.
President Trump and Republicans have proposed arming teachers to protect students from shooters. Florida lawmakers have debated this proposed solution, and the Florida House Appropriations Committee recently passed a program that inserts trained, armed teachers into classrooms. President Trump also signed an order that directs the Justice Department to ban bump stocks, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions believes can be effectively banned through regulation according to Fox News.
Following the White House meeting that featured survivors of gun violence, President Trump voiced his support his support of increasing the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21. According to Fox News, Republican senators such as Marco Rubio and Pat Roberts have also expressed their support for raising the minimum age to purchase certain types of firearms. Consequently, Walmart recently announced its decision to not sell firearms and ammunition to anyone under the age of 21. Another retailer, Dick’s Sporting Goods, announced that assault style rifles will no longer be sold in their stores.
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers and gun control advocates have called for a ban on assault-style rifles. According to the Washington Examiner, Rep. David Cicilline and other Democrats in the House have introduced a bill that bans some semi-automatic firearms, garnering over 150 signatures. The bill bans the sale, transfer and importation of semi-automatic rifles, pistols that can hold a detachable magazine, and semi-automatic rifles that can carry a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Rep Cicilline stated that, “assault weapons were made for one purpose… They are designed to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time. They do not belong in our communities.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students have strongly voiced their opposition to the NRA, and have accused the organization of being fully responsible for stalling action in Washington on the gun control. The high school students have called out politicians who have received donations from the NRA. High school senior Emma Gonzalez predicts that, “People who are being funded by the NRA are not going to be allowed to remain in office when midterm elections roll around. They’re going to be voted out of office. Incumbency rates are going to drop” according to The Daily News. Corporations such as MetLife, United, Delta and Hertz have recently announced that they have cut their ties with the NRA, according to CNN.
At the Conservative Political Action Committee, NRA head Wayne La Pierre responded fiercely to criticism of his organization. He stated that, “the shameful politicization of tragedy – it’s a classic strategy, right out of the playbook of a poisonous movement.” The New York Times reported that La Pierre called for more armed guards to protect students and a strengthening of the preexisting background check system. La Pierre slammed the blaming the NRA – which, according to him, is an organization composed of law abiding citizens who support the Second Amendment – for the tragedy in Parkland. President Trump voiced his support of the NRA, and also has accused senators such as Pat Toomey of being afraid of the NRA. He stated that, “If there’s a Republican who has demonstrated he’s not afraid of the NRA, that would be me,” to CNN corespondents.
Political pundits have expressed contradictory opinions over whether action will be taken by lawmakers in response to the public outrage from the Parkland shooting. David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama, told CNN that, “I think he [President Trump] is in a position where he is actually going to have to do something about it… This is a really, really big political moment for him… I think there are political consequences here.”