School shooting survivors, Florida lawmakers on collision course over guns

Dozens of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors are in Tallahasse

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Ariana Ortega said she wasn't discouraged after the Florida state House voted Tuesday to avoid considering a bill that would ban assault weapons. She was energized and ready to confront legislators. 

Ariana said her friend Carmen Schentrup, 16, was killed in the shooting. They were supposed to celebrate her 17th birthday Wednesday, so she will be honoring her memory lobbying for gun control in Tallahassee. 

Many of the survivors reigniting the gun-control movement said they believe it is their duty to do everything they can to prevent another massacre

"We are not giving up," Ariana said. 

Ariana was among a group of about 100 traveling in three buses to Tallahassee to hold a march and a rally Wednesday morning in an effort to put pressure on lawmakers, as they marked a week after Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle to shoot and kill Carmen and 16 others.

Cruz purchased the rifle Feb. 11, 2017 when he was 18 years old.

After the Legislature halted a bill (HB 219)  that would ban semiautomatic rifles like the one Cruz used, Ariana said the proposal was probably too ambitious. She understood the change was going to have to be gradual in a state known for expanding gun rights. 

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat from Orlando, introduced the bill. He knew some of the 49 victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre. 

After Florida Republicans voted 71-36 to avoid discussing the bill, a couple of school massacre survivor who were watching from the gallery, started to cry. Emma Gonzalez, one of the most outspoken students, tweeted. 

"We are not forgetting this come Midterm Elections," Emma wrote. "The anger that I feel right now is indescribable."

The students and their supporters are in for a battle. Some 1.3 million have concealed carry permits in Florida. Gun owners make up large voting blocks in some parts of the state -- especially in the Panhandle.

In 2011, Gov. Rick Scott, who signed into law a bill banning cities and counties from regulating gun and ammunitions sales. Senate President Joe Negron sponsored the bill. The students will be meeting with Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and legislative leaders Wednesday. 

"This isn't about school shootings. This isn't about violence anymore," senior Diego Pfeiffer said during a speech in Tallahassee. "This is about hope. This is about moving forward."

 

CNN contributed to this report. 

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