Florida rejects weapons ban

Feb 21, 2018

The Florida state House on Tuesday rejected a ban on many semiautomatic guns and large capacity magazines as dozens of survivors of last week’s school shooting headed to the state Capitol to turn their grief into political action.

Lawmakers voted down a motion to consider the ban during a session that opened with a prayer for the 17 people killed by a former student last Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The vote in the Republican-dominated body was 36-71.

Stoneman Douglas students in the gallery of the Capitol during the vote appeared stunned.

“It was just so heartbreaking to see how many (voters’) names were up there, especially after it was my school,” Sheryl Acquaroli, a 16-year-old junior from Stoneman Douglas, who was crying, later told “Anderson Cooper 360˚.” “It seemed almost heartless how they immediately pushed the button to say no.”

Spencer Blum, one of her schoolmates, said he felt like lawmakers weren’t representing him and other survivors of the shooting.

“That’s unacceptable,” he said of the vote, adding later: “It shows that they don’t care about us.”

Sheryl Acquaroli, a 16-year-old junior from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is overcome with emotion in the gallery of the House of Representatives after the vote.

Sheryl said the next person who is killed by an AR-15 like the one used at her school will be the fault of the 71 people who voted no Tuesday.

“They had a chance to stop it today,” she said. “If there is another mass shooting (in Florida) it’s going to be their fault.”

House Rep. Kionne McGhee of Miami invoked the Parkland shooting in requesting that HB 219 — which would ban AR-15 rifles and other guns defined as “assault weapons” and large capacity magazines — be moved from committee to the House floor for questions, debate and a vote.

“I ask that you keep this bill and the conversation about the solution to combat mass shootings alive,” McGhee, Democratic ranking member on the Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee, told the House before the vote.

“While this is an extraordinary procedural move, the shooting in Parkland demands extraordinary action.”


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