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Thousands of people support students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in a rally for gun control at the Florida capitol (2/21/18).The Florida legislature is poised to pass some of the most sweeping gun control and mental health reforms in more than 20 years. The moves come as lawmakers face pressure from students affected by the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.On Valentine's Day, a 19-year-old in Parkland opened fire on his former classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He killed 14 students, three adults, and injured 14 others. There were warning signs, yet, all, including a tip to the FBI, were missed.That day, school safety measures in place, like school resource officers, restricted access and fencing--all failed.In the wake of the shooting, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have mobilized, calling on the legislature to take greater action to prevent school and mass shootings. Lawmakers, it seems, are finally listening.https://youtu.be/6PRPEfu7WPg

Rally In Tally Voices Frustrations With Legislative Inaction on Gun Control

Andrew Quintana

The Aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting has Florida’s lawmakers changing their focus to debates on firearms and school safety. Supporters of gun reform rallied outside the Capitol Monday with one clear message: action. 

Hundreds of activists are marching onto the steps of Florida’s Capitol building, greeting lawmakers who will be hearing new gun legislation throughout the week.

“Does everyone understand how majority rules? We all know that, right? We take a vote, majority rules,” says House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz. 

She is frustrated with the Florida Legislature’s inaction on the topic of gun control over the last few years. Cruz is proposing 17 bills—one for each victim of the Parkland shooting.

“Well the majority that’s ruling here now, the leadership that’s ruling here now. Of those 17 bills that have to see a committee first, how many bills do you think they heard? Zero! Zero attempts to make our families safe,” Cruz says.

Bela Urbina is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. During her research on the topic of gun control for the school’s debate team, she found a majority of Americans favored background checks. She says refusing to implement laws that addresses that is a clear violation of democracy.

“Every Universal background check poll that I looked out stated at least 85 percent of American people want a federal universal background check. This fundamentally comes down to American democracy. Is it working for most people, or is it working for a very small amount? This is why we need to put the politics aside and use our common sense to save lives,” Urbina says.

Senator Gary Farmer (D-Ft. Lauderdale) says gun control is a touchy subject in the legislature. But, he hopes recent efforts by activists will push lawmakers to take action and address these issues.

“And it’s efforts like this, and your voices being heard, that let them know we are not going away until the discussion and the solution includes common sense gun safety reforms that 70 percent or more of Floridians support,” Farmer says.

Meanwhile, activists at the rally have a plan for lawmakers who avoid the discussion or fail to act on the subject of gun reform.  

“Vote them out. Vote them out. Vote them out. Vote them out,” the crowd chants.