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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Florida Congress favors assault weapons


The proposal that opened the debate to prohibit assault weapons had 71 votes against and 36 in favor. It was held in front of a group of students from the Parkland school, where 17 people died last week in a shootout. Despite de defeat, students will continue their fight in order to stop killings at schools.

The survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School witnessed the legal battle they face to achieve greater control on the purchase of weapons in the US. The Florida House of Representatives rejected a proposal to ban assault weapons, such as the AR-15 that Nikolas Cruz used to kill 17 people in the high school on Valentine's Day.

The final vote was 36 in favor and 71 against and was held in front of a group of students from the Parkland school, who watched from the gallery the discussion of their representatives at the state Capitol in Tallahassee. Local media News 13 reported that the students held a candlelight vigil before the meetings in the Senate office building and that shortly before entering they received warnings of the real possibilities of a proposal banning weapons. Lawmakers told students that only reforms that are already being considered by Republicans could be approved and that this would be done in the last three weeks of the legislative period, News 13 reported.

These reforms include raising the age of possession of firearms from 18 to 21 years and prohibiting devices that convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic, known as bump stocks. This accessory is the same one used by the author of the Las Vegas shooting last year and with which killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500 in just minutes.

The students present at the Capitol belong to a group that arrived a day before the rest of their comrades arrived on several buses to Tallahassee, in order to demand a broad package of measures to reinforce weapons control. The youngsters insist that only the ban on the sale of assault weapons will prevent a repeat of Parkland's shooting. These meetings are just part of the events that students and gun control activists have prepared in this week's agenda in the state capital.

This group of young people, to which others will join progressively, will be the protagonists of a demonstration of the movement that they have promoted under the slogan #NeverAgain on March 24th. The mayor of Tallahassee, Democrat Andrew Gillum, received some of these students whom he described as "the bravest young people I have ever met." "This week they are fighting not only for their classmates, teachers and their school, but to make #NeverAgain a reality," he added.

Let’s hope their intention can be translated into reality and the government chooses to listen to them.