In front of Douglas students, Florida House declines to take up assault weapons ban

By Troy Kinsey, Capitol Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, February 22, 2018, 7:38 PM EST
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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students arrived in Tallahassee on Monday night with an agenda. 

  • Douglas students in Tallahassee to push for new gun legislation 
  • Florida House votes down attempt to revive bill banning assault rifles
  • Students meeting with Democratic and GOP lawmakers

In fact, they want more than what is on the table. 

Specifically, the students want an outright ban on weapons such as the AR-15. That is not part of a gun control package being discussed by state Senate Republicans. 

"My English classroom from last year, my club classroom, the doors are broken, the walls are broken. My friend was shot through the walls. Another friend was shot and killed, because he (the gunman) was able to shoot through the door and come into the classroom," Stoneman Douglas student Sheryl Acquaroli said. "With an AR-15, that is possible. With a handgun, that is not possible."

On Tuesday, the Florida House shot down a motion to take up a ban on weapons such as the AR-15. The motion failed 36-71, with almost every Republican voting no.

Confounded students in the House gallery appeared shocked after the vote.

The "AR" does not stand for assault rifle. It stands for the Armalite rifle, named after the company that developed the weapon. 

Students attended a candlelight vigil before attending meetings at the Senate office building Tuesday morning. Students meet with Democratic state Sen. Bobby Powell today. 

Lawmakers told the students that the GOP reforms may be the only realistic changes that can be passed in the final three weeks of the legislative session. 

Among the proposals is raising Florida's minimum firearm possession age from 18 to 21. There would also be a ban on bump stocks, which was used in the Las Vegas shooting last year.

Also, an implementation of a so-called "gun violence restraining order" process is being discussed. But not even a proposed Democratic ban on the sale of assault weapons is in that package. 

Students, however, say only that ban will prevent a repeat of the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High that killed 17 people on Valentine's Day. 

The Florida House vote on HB 219.

The Stoneman Douglas students — more are arriving by bus tonight — are scheduled to also meet with Republican lawmakers Tuesday.

These meetings are just a part of multiple legislative events this week in wake of the shooting.

There's a town hall meeting with Florida sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson expected. Also, President Donald Trump is hosting a "listening session" Wednesday with Florida high school students. 

The students also plan to hold a rally Wednesday in hopes that it will put pressure on the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to consider a sweeping package of gun-control laws, something some GOP lawmakers said Monday they would consider. 

More students are also heading up from Parkland. Three buses carrying about 100 students from MSD High are expected to arrive in Tallahassee Tuesday evening, ahead of a rally Wednesday.