As young protesters flood the state Capitol, a bipartisan group of lawmakers could propose new waiting period and age restrictions for buyers of semiautomatic rifles and other measures.
Filled with fury and impatient for change, thousands of Florida high school students and protesters rallied Wednesday at the state Capitol to demand action in the final weeks of the legislative session to curb the sale of assault-style rifles, the Washington Post reports. “Thoughts and prayers won’t stop my brothers and my sisters from dying — action will,” declared Sheryl Acquaroli, 16, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty members were killed on Feb. 14. “They are our students, our teachers and our coaches. And they died because you failed.” A bipartisan group in the House and Senate continued working to hash out a set of proposals that could be voted on as early as next week. Amid the din of young protesters, the rigid partisan lines that have long deadlocked the debate over gun violence have shown signs of cracking.
The proposals stop short of student demands for a ban on the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons like the AR-15-style gun that was used last week. Instead, lawmakers have focused on new waiting period and age restrictions for buyers of semiautomatic rifles, new powers for police to confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous by the courts, and new measures to protect schools from mass shooters. The proposals are a sharp break from the state’s traditional response to mass-casualty gun violence. Though a contested state in presidential elections, Florida has a long history as a laboratory of gun-rights legislation pushed by the National Rifle Association. The state spearheaded efforts to establish concealed-carry permits and a “stand-your-ground” law, which protects citizens who use deadly force if they feel they are in imminent danger. Many state leaders, including Republican Gov. Rick Scott, boast high NRA approval ratings.