Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students head to Tallahassee to call for change

Republicans who control Legislature say they'll consider students' requests

PARKLAND, Fla. – Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed last week, are hoping to pressure state lawmakers to consider tougher gun-control laws. 

The students are busing 400 miles to the state Capitol Tuesday, pushing for a sweeping package of gun measures.

"We're hoping to pass some common sense gun safety laws and (push for the requirement of) extensive background checks," senior Chris Grady, 19, said.  

Republicans who control the Legislature said Monday they'd consider it. 

The attack seemed to weaken the resistance to tougher gun measures among some state leaders. But there's still strong resistance by many Republicans to any gun-control measures.

Some students were in the gallery Tuesday as the Florida House voted on whether to revive a bill to ban assault weapons. A photo shows a student crying after the motion failed 36-71.

Grady said he understands that the fight for change will be an uphill battle.

"I know politicians have been sweeping this under the rug for years, but they've never seen anything quite like what we're doing here," he said. "We've talked about it a lot and, you know, we're going to be as nonpartisan as possible. This can't be a party issue. This is a people issue."

State Sen. Kevin Rader said he believes "we are going to have legislation going forward, but I question whether it's enough."

Parkland's state senator was one of the lawmakers a group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students visited in a morning lobby session, employing their lessons in civics with a gut-wrenching firsthand reason.

"Policy comes after the election," former State Sen. Jeremy Ring said. "It's hard to change someone's mind who believes you should be born with a gun in your hands. But what you can do is mobilize for the vote."

The governor's office assembled social workers, school administrators and sheriffs for their input. 

Law enforcement officials want the ability to confiscate weapons from people deemed mentally unstable.

The Senate offered a plan in specific reaction to the mass shooting. It includes raising age restriction on gun purchases, $100 million more in funding for mental health screening and counseling in schools and more school resource officers. 

About the Authors: