US & Canada

Florida shooting: State lawmakers pass gun control measures

People join together after a school shooting that killed 17 to protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse on 17 February 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The latest school shooting has sparked nationwide calls for gun control

Florida lawmakers have voted to enact new gun control measures, weeks after one of the worst school shootings in US history took place in the state.

The Senate narrowly passed a bill that would raise the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21 and require a three-day waiting period for most weapons.

Senators voted 20-18 in favour, after an amendment removed a provision to arm classroom teachers.

The law now requires approval from the House of Representatives and governor.

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Media captionAmerica's gun laws explained

Seventeen people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Florida city of Parkland on 14 February by former student Nikolas Cruz.

Many of the surviving students had called on politicians do more than give "thoughts and prayers" and protested for greater gun control.

Emotional testimony

The national minimum age to buy a handgun is already 21. Florida law mandates a three-day waiting period before the purchase of a handgun is completed. However, a person as young as 18 can buy a rifle in Florida, with no waiting period.

Mr Cruz was 18 years old when he purchased the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle he turned on students and school staff, authorities said according to Reuters.

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Media captionStudent to lawmakers "Shame on you"

Senators listened to three hours of often emotional testimony before voting.

"Do I think this bill goes far enough? No! No, I don't!" Democratic Senator Lauren Book told the AP news agency. She said she hoped for a ban on assault weapons, but the Senate had already rejected the provision at the weekend.

Armed 'marshals' in schools

Under the bill, classroom teachers have been exempted from a new voluntary armed "marshals" programme for schools in Florida.

The programme - named after Aaron Feis, a coach who died in the Parkland shooting - will allow school staff who do not teach in classrooms to be armed, subject to school district approval and specialist training.

The exemption of classroom teachers was deemed necessary to get the bill passed. Republican Governor Rick Scott - who has the final say on the bill - has opposed arming teachers.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School parents and students had also decried the proposal.

A ban on the sale or possession of bump fire stocks - a piece of metal or plastic that allows a semi-automatic weapon to fire rounds of bullets in seconds, much like a machine gun - was also approved.

The new bill represents a break with the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has resisted proposals to raise age limits or impose new waiting limits.

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Media captionSeven things the NRA blames after Florida

In the past few weeks, a number of companies have cut ties with the gun rights lobby by ending discounts for NRA members.

Meanwhile, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law on Monday a bill to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and people under restraining orders - a measure which the state touted as the first bill to pass since the Parkland massacre.

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