Parkland students plan march at Florida Capitol to demand change to gun laws

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PHOTO BY MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
A week after their classmates and teachers were killed by a gunman in a mass shooting, about 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are planning a march at the state Capitol Wednesday to demand changes to gun laws.

The Miami Herald reports students are demanding that Florida lawmakers "use the remaining three weeks of the annual session to revise state mental health and gun laws to forestall a repeat of the Parkland school shooting." Last Wednesday, former Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz, 19, walked onto campus with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and went on a shooting spree that ended with the deaths of 17 children and teachers. Since then, students, teachers and parents have been calling out state and federal lawmakers for lax gun laws they say allowed Cruz to purchase a gun despite clear warning signs.

Parkland students have also organized a nationwide rally, "March For Our Lives," in Washington D.C. and other cities on March 24 to demand legislation that addresses gun violence. Two national school walkouts have been planned on March 14 and April 20, the latter being the 19th year since the Columbine High School mass shooting where 13 died.

The Herald reports Parkland students say they want Florida legislators to ban assault weapons, prohibit high-capacity magazines and make it harder for people with "histories of mental illness" to buy guns.

The students' demands will be a hard sell in the Florida Legislature, where lawmakers have been more inclined to expand access to guns, even after the Pulse massacre in Orlando where 49 people were killed. A hearing has been scheduled in the Senate for a bill that would allow teachers to carry concealed weapons at school.

The Parkland students will be joined in their Tallahassee rally on Feb. 21 by the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence and the League of Women Voters of Florida. The coalition says it will deliver petitions with thousands of signatures asking for gun reform laws to Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

"We demand these bills be heard – and passed," said Patti Brigham, co-chair of the coalition in a statement. "What possible argument can be made that legislation designed to loosen gun laws get a full airing year after year, while smart gun safety bills languish? Our legislators are literally allowing our residents – our children – to be slaughtered."