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Florida Students Push to Control Assault Rifle Sales

(VOA): Busloads of student survivors of last week's horrific shooting rampage at a Florida high school headed to the state capital of Tallahassee on Tuesday to press lawmakers to ban the sale of assault rifles like the one a former student allegedly used to kill 17 people. The students from the Parkland, Florida, school are at the vanguard of a national outcry over the attack. But it is unclear whether their demands will push state legislators and national lawmakers in Congress to adopt tougher gun controls in the U.S. WATCH: Florida High School Students Board Bus to Tallahassee The students are planning a March 24 national rally in Washington called "March for Our Lives." The event is drawing support from such pop music celebrities as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Cher, while actor George Clooney and his wife, Amal, a human rights attorney, say they are donating $500,000 to help pay for it. "Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country," Clooney said. WATCH: Inside the Bus to Tallahassee Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott plans to meet later in the week with the students, who are traveling more than 600 kilometers (more than 370 miles) on the trip. Florida Senator Marco Rubio is a Republican who has accepted more than $3.3 million in political donations from the National Rifle Association, the dominant U.S. gun lobby, but he softened his stance on gun control. Rubio said he supports a Democratic-sponsored bid to enact a state law that would allow authorities to confiscate guns from people who are determined to be a danger to others. Rubio told a Florida television station the law might have prevented the school massacre. President Donald Trump, another gun rights supporter, is planning to meet Wednesday with students for a "listening session" about the shooting attacks. The White House said Monday that Trump supports efforts to tighten federal background checks on gun buyers in the aftermath of the tragedy. Poll results A Washington Post-ABC News poll released late Monday said 86 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Democrats said stricter gun control laws could have prevented the Florida shooting, while 67 percent of Republicans said stricter laws could not have prevented the massacre. More than three-quarters of both groups said more effective mental health screening and treatment could have prevented the attack. Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old man who police say has confessed to gunning down 14 students and three adults at the high school he was expelled from last year, was able to buy an AR-15 rifle to carry out the mayhem after clearing a background check. Background checks In Washington, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn and Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy have drafted legislation to improve compliance with background checks. The revisions are still being negotiated. The Cornyn-Murphy legislation has drawn support from Democrats and Republicans, although passage of gun legislation has often stalled in Congress. The background check measure would not impose new restrictions on gun purchases, but rather attempt to make sure information about mental health and criminal conviction records that legally bar individuals from buying weapons is consistently sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The NRA supports improving the background check system. The FBI admitted it did not act on a tip on Jan. 5 about Cruz when someone with a close relationship to him called in with information about the teenager's "gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting." 'Badge of shame' Cameron Kasey, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said one of the reasons for the upcoming national march is to pin "a badge of shame" on any politician who is accepting money from the NRA. Emma Gonzalez, another student at the high school, told ABC News that the students will give lawmakers who have NRA support "the opportunity to be on the right side of this." In an interview on CNN, she said, "If they accept this blood money, they are against the children. You're either funding the killers, or you're standing with the children."

(This story has not been edited by N24 staff and is Voice Of America auto-generated from a RSS feed)

Published Date: Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 | 06:45 AM

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