Florida shooting survivors rally for stricter gun controls


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Media captionAround 100 students made the bus journey of more than seven hours to reach Florida’s capital

Survivors of a Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead have travelled to the state capital to press lawmakers to take more action on gun control.

About 100 students arrived in Tallahassee hours before the state legislature rejected a ban on assault rifles like the one used in the attack.

They are due to stage a rally at the statehouse later and meet legislators.

It is the first organised protest of the youth-led anti-gun movement that has swept the US since the attack.

Under pressure to act, President Donald Trump on Tuesday backed a move to ban devices that can enable rifles to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute. This bump-stock accessory was used by a gunman in Las Vegas to kill 58 concert-goers last year.

What is the #NeverAgain movement?

It was born out of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland one week ago, the second-deadliest school shooting in US history.

For the first time, articulate student survivors of the attack have broken into the much debated topic of gun violence and gun controls, says the BBC’s Barbara Plett in Tallahassee.

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Student Tyra Hemans met Florida representative Wengay Newton after arriving in Tallahassee

Wednesday’s demonstration is their first organised protest aimed at putting pressure on legislators to ban assault-style rifles, similar to the semi-automatic AR-15 model used by the gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

The movement has drawn support from celebrities such as George and Amal Clooney, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, who have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund a planned march on gun control in Washington on 24 March.

‘We’re won’t back down’

By Paul Blake, BBC News, South Florida

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In all around 100 students, on three buses, made the journey of more than seven hours to the state capital.

For many of these students, it is their first trip to the capitol building in Tallahassee to lobby their lawmakers over a national issue.

There is an excitement among the students, who sense that they may be on the cusp of starting a national movement.

“We’re travelling to our state capital to make sure that none of these people that we grew up with – that we’ve known our whole lives – die in vain,” Julia Salomone, 18, said confidently.

So how do the students expect the politicians to receive them? “Honestly, I feel like they’re gonna be overwhelmed by us because they’re going to see in our faces our determination, our commitment to this, because this is all we’re fighting for right now,” 16-year-old Rain Valladares said. “They’re gonna look us in the face and see that we’re not gonna back down.”

Is Trump addressing gun control concerns?

The US president on Tuesday instructed the justice department to propose a law to make bump stock accessories, which allow semi-automatic rifles to fire as rapidly as machine guns, illegal.

“We must move past clichés and tired debates, and focus on evidence-based solutions and security measures that actually work and that make it easier for men and women of law enforcement to protect our children and protect our safety,” Mr Trump said.

The device was not seen in the Florida shooting, but it was used by Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old gambler, who rained bullets on the crowd at an outdoor country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in October.

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Media captionWhat gunfire tells us about weapons used

It can be bought for as little as $100 (£70) without the need for a criminal background check.

More than 500 people were also injured in that attack, considered America’s worst ever mass-shooting by a lone gunman.

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Media captionWhat has Donald Trump said about guns and gun control?

Bipartisan efforts to introduce a ban on such devices in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre have stalled.

Previous efforts to introduce gun control measures in the wake of mass shootings in recent years have gone nowhere in the US Congress.

Might Trump consider other gun-control measures?

Over the weekend, Mr Trump said he was supportive of a bipartisan bill that seeks to improve the checks in place before someone can buy a gun.

That legislation intends to patch holes in the FBI’s background check system, which processed more than 25 million gun ownership applications last year.

Failures in that database were exposed by the Florida shooting, committed by a man with a history of mental health issues.



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