Florida shooting survivors rally for gun control

media captionFlorida students have lobbied for tighter gun control measures

Survivors of a Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead have marched to the state capitol to press lawmakers to take more action on gun control.

One student said she was disappointed in meetings with lawmakers, who "danced around" their questions on gun control.

It is the first organised protest of the youth-led anti-gun movement that has swept the US since the attack.

Thousands of Florida students walked out of their classrooms in solidarity with survivors on Wednesday morning.

"We came here prepared, and we are going to come to every single meeting with every single legislator prepared," Delaney Tarr said in Florida's capital city of Tallahassee.

media captionUS students walk out to demand firearms control

"We know what we want. We want gun reform. We want common sense gun laws."

Students chanted "protect our kids" and carried banners with the words "never again" emblazoned across them as they protested outside the capitol.

They were joined by students from two universities in Florida.

"Today instead of returning to our studies, instead of preparing for exams and instead of grieving for dead classmates and teachers, we are out here advocating for a change," said Florence Yared, a 17-year-old survivor of last week's shooting.

media captionFlorida shooting survivor Lorenzo Prado mistaken for the gunman

The students arrived on Tuesday as the state legislature rejected a ban on assault rifles like the one used in the attack.

They split into several groups to discuss how to prevent gun violence and mental health issues with lawmakers.

When pressed on gun control, state Senate President Joe Negron said "that's an issue that we're reviewing".

President Donald Trump hosted students and teachers at the White House on Wednesday for a "listening session" on gun control.

He pledged action on mental health and background checks following Florida's school shooting.

"It's not going to be talk like it's been in the past," he said. "It's been going on too long, too many instances, we're going to get it done."

The National Rifle Association, a powerful gun rights lobby group, announced it would participate in a town hall that will be broadcast on CNN on Wednesday evening, according to the network.

image copyrightReuters
image captionStudent Tyra Hemans met Florida representative Wengay Newton after arriving in Tallahassee

What is the #NeverAgain movement?

It was born out of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland one week ago, the second-deadliest school shooting in US history.

For the first time, articulate student survivors of the attack have broken into the much-debated topic of gun control, says the BBC's Barbara Plett in Tallahassee.

media captionBritish student Lewis Mizen: 'Something like this isn't going to stop us marching towards our future'

Wednesday's demonstration is their first organised protest aimed at putting pressure on legislators to ban assault-style rifles, similar to the semi-automatic AR-15 model police say was used by the alleged gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

Several students took centre stage at an emotionally charged rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, with high school student Emma Gonzalez attacking President Trump and other politicians for accepting political donations from the NRA.

The movement has drawn support from celebrities such as George and Amal Clooney, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, who have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund a planned march on gun control in Washington on 24 March.

media captionAs a gunman opened fire in a Florida high school, students inside reached for their phones.

Are legislators doing anything?

Florida's Republican-controlled legislature on Tuesday rejected a Democratic motion to debate banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

During the current legislative session, lawmakers have heard proposals to liberalise gun laws, including to allow firearms in courts and airports.

Since last week's shooting, one Republican legislator put forward a plan to permit certain adults in schools to carry guns.

However, some Republicans have also voiced support in recent days for the idea of raising the legal age for buying a rifle or shotgun from 18.

Gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

Is Trump addressing the concerns?

media captionWhat's Donald Trump said about guns and gun control?

The US president on Tuesday instructed the justice department to propose a law to make bump-stock accessories, which allow semi-automatic rifles to fire as rapidly as machine guns, illegal.

The device was not seen in the Florida shooting, but it was used by Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old gambler, who rained bullets on the crowd, killing 58, at an outdoor country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in October.

The White House also signalled on Tuesday it was considering raising the minimum age for people buying AR-15-type assault rifles - the current age limit in most states is 18.

Mr Trump said over the weekend he was supportive of a bipartisan bill that seeks to improve the checks in place before someone can buy a gun.

Previous efforts to introduce gun control measures in the wake of mass shootings in recent years have gone nowhere in the US Congress.

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