Florida students hit Capitol Hill, press Congress for action on gun violence

As lawmakers in Congress returned to Capitol Hill on Monday, they were greeted by surviving students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed seventeen people earlier this month, as Democrats in the House and Senate called for votes on a variety of gun control measures, arguing the time for action is long overdue.

With some of the students in the galleries above the House floor, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) read the names of the 17 people killed at the school, saying they "were killed in yet another senseless act of gun violence."

Flanked by fellow members of the Florida Congressional delegation in the Well of the House, Deutch then led the U.S. House in a moment of silence for the victims of the February 14 attack.

Outraged by the Florida shooting - and a lack of action on guns in Congress - more than 150 Democrats in the House joined on Monday to introduce what is expected to be the first of many bills on guns, this one a ban on assault weapons.

"Assault weapons were made for one purpose," said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who led the introduction of the measure. "They are designed to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time."

On the floor of both the House and Senate, Democrats on Monday immediately called for action on gun violence, making a familiar plea that too many mass shootings have gone unaddressed by GOP leaders in Congress.

A few hours after a meeting with students from the Parkland, Florida school, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said there should be no question that lawmakers must come together, and find a way to reduce the chance for mass shootings at schools in every corner of America.

"These students have told us over and over that they don't plan to stop until Congress and the state legislators around the country start enacting commonsense gun reforms," Nelson said. "They said they are not going to stop and neither am I."

Earlier in the day, the politically divisive debate over the best response to Florida shooting was on display at the White House, as one Democratic Governor directly told President Donald Trump that his idea to allow some teachers and school employees to carry concealed weapons was ill-advised.

"I just suggest we need a little less tweeting right now and a little more listening," said Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State, as he ridiculed the President's idea point blank.

Mr. Trump defended the plan repeatedly in his meeting with the Governors before reporters and television cameras, saying it would be a "very small group of people," who would be highly trained, and able to wield a firearm.

Mr. Trump again said he was committed to action both in Congress, and at the state and local level to help with school security, as the President again said he wanted to strengthen background checks dealing with mental health issues for gun buyers.

Democrats though said the President was ignoring one other major issue, the question of checks on private sales of firearms, what some have referred to as the 'gun show loophole.'

While Democrats have rallied more and more behind the idea of legislative action on guns and gun violence, there is no way they can get anything done without the help of Republicans - and for now, there is little evidence of a major change by GOP leaders on the subject.

Students from Parkland, Florida will be lobbying for action again on Tuesday, as they meet with more lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

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