Rally calls on Florida lawmakers to address gun violence

Dozens of gun-control advocates, including survivors of last year’s mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, gathered Thursday at the Capitol to call on lawmakers to do more to stop gun violence.

The organization March For Our Lives, made up of middle-school to college-aged students from across the state, rallied and released a policy agenda. Among other things, the group wants to make it tougher to buy guns in Florida, ban so-called assault weapons, and create a gun-violence prevention task force.

Florida State University freshman Alyssa Ackbar said what is known as the Peace Plan for a Safer Florida should be a starting point for lawmakers. Legislation filed in the House this week would ban the sale and possession of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines in the state.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, has sponsored the proposal for four years and said it is time for the Republican-controlled Legislature to take up the measure.

“Military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are weapons of war,” Smith said. “They are made for war, and they do not belong in civilian hands.”

Lawmakers have rejected numerous gun-control proposals in the past, including proposals for an assault weapons ban. However, the ideas have gained renewed attention since the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people.