In the weeks after a gunman walked into a high school in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 students and faculty members, survivors aren’t giving up their fight for stronger gun control efforts.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teenagers have moved front and center in the gun control debate, organizing a coming national school walkout, meeting with President Donald Trump, lobbying state lawmakers and participating in protests.
Since the Feb. 14 shooting, several ideas have been floated by the White House, Republicans, Democrats and state officials to combat gun violence. Trump also hosted a group of bipartisan lawmakers at the White House to discuss reform.
Here are seven measures lawmakers are now debating.
Trump and Republicans suggested the possibility of arming teachers after the school shooting – and Florida lawmakers moved closer to do that this week.
On Twitter, Trump promoted the idea of having “highly trained, gun adept” teachers and coaches in schools who could confront a shooter before first responders arrived or serve as a “deterrent to the cowards that do this.”
“If a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!” Trump tweeted.
Two school districts near Dayton, Ohio, already train a group of select teachers and faculty members to confront an active shooter. These staff members, whose identities are not revealed, have access to safes throughout the schools which have guns hidden inside.
Ohio offers funding for schools to train staff to respond in emergency situations. There are more than a dozen other states across the country with school districts that have teachers or staff members who are trained to fire back, or which legally allow adults with guns on school grounds.
Strengthening federal background checks
Trump has seemed open to strengthening the federal background check process for gun purchases, saying it should be a bipartisan effort to do so.
Gun control advocates point to what they see as “loopholes” in the current system that could allow for people to purchase guns even when they legally should not be able to do so.
Specifically, Jonas Oransky, deputy legal director of Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for stronger gun control, noted the ability for consumers to purchase guns from a private seller without completing a background check.
“It’s not that all sellers are dangerous or devious, but buyers who know that they can skip the background check can look for an unlicensed seller.”
“It’s not that all sellers are dangerous or devious, but buyers who know that they can skip the background check can look for an unlicensed seller,” Oransky told Fox News.
He also pointed to the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allows dealers to sell guns to a customer before a background check is completed – when National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) marks a document “delayed” but does not approve or deny it within three business days. He said a disproportionate number of buyers who obtain a gun before a background check is completed are domestic abusers, citing complex records and restraining orders that investigators need additional time to read through or discuss with the appropriate local law enforcement agency.
However, Second Amendment advocates argue the background check system already does too much.
“We don’t think it’s proper for people to have to prove their innocence to the government in order to exercise their God-given right,” Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, a Virginia-based gun rights nonprofit, told Fox News.
Eliminating bump stocks
In the wake of the Parkland shooting, Trump said he signed an order instructing the Justice Department to ban bump stocks, an attachment that allows a semi-automatic rifle to resemble a fully automatic weapon.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said top officials in the Justice Department believe they can ban bump stocks through the regulatory process. However, gun manufacturers and owners are likely to sue if they are banned without any legislation from Congress.
Bump stocks were approved in 2010 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after concluding the devices did not turn guns into machine guns, which are prohibited under the National Firearms Act.
The devices weren’t used in the Parkland shooting, but the massacre did reignite the debate over whether they should be banned.
Limiting high-capacity magazines
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said he’s open to changing his stance on one gun control measure after meeting with survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting: high-capacity magazines.
“I have traditionally not supported looking at magazine clip size and after this and some of the details I have learned about it, I am reconsidering that position,” Rubio said during a recent town hall. “While it may not prevent an attack, it may save lives in an attack … So we’ll have to get into that debate, but that is something I believe that we can reach a compromise [on] in this country, and that I’m willing to reconsider.”
The suspected gunman had to stop to reload his firearm during the massacre, which Rubio added was “evidence in this case that it saved the lives of some people.”
Raising the age limit to buy certain guns
After hosting survivors of gun violence and their parents at the White House, Trump publicly backed raising the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21.
“There’s nothing more important than protecting our children,” Trump said.
“Certainly, nobody under 21 should have an AR-15.”
And when Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., acknowledged that a bill he’s sponsored with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to broaden background checks does not include raising the age limit, Trump accused him of being “afraid of the NRA.”
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch has already said the powerful gun lobby does not support raising the age limit to purchase certain firearms. After Trump’s White House meeting, she told Fox News it was “good TV,” but some of the proposals were “really bad policy.”
However, some Republican senators, including Rubio and Pat Roberts of Kansas, have voiced support for raising the minimum age to purchase certain types of firearms.
“Certainly, nobody under 21 should have an AR-15,” Roberts said.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced this week that it would stop selling firearms and ammunition to anyone under the age of 21.
Banning ‘assault-style’ rifles
House Democrats introduced a ban on semi-automatic firearms in February called the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018. More than 150 Democrats signed the legislation, the Washington Examiner reported.
According to a Harvard CAPS-Harris survey, 61 percent of respondents support banning the AR-15 firearm, used in many of the recent mass shootings in the U.S., including Parkland. Just 39 percent of respondents said adults who pass a background check should be allowed to purchase the firearm.
Dick’s Sporting Goods announced in February that it would stop selling assault-style rifles and prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing a firearm.
“We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognize and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens,” Edward W. Stack, chairman and CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, said in a statement. “But we have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America – our kids.”
Stack also said the company would stop selling high-capacity magazines and will continue its policy of not selling bump stocks.
“Some will say these steps can’t guarantee tragedies like Parkland will never happen again. They may be correct – but if common sense reform is enacted and even one life is saved, it will have been worth it,” Stack said.
Cutting ties with the NRA
Trump encouraged lawmakers not to be afraid to disagree with the NRA, the powerful nonprofit that advocates for gun rights, during a televised meeting with lawmakers.
“I’m a fan of the NRA,” Trump said. “There’s no bigger fan. I’m a big fan of the NRA. These are great people, these great patriots. They love our country. But that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.”
Several companies have cut ties with the NRA since the Parkland school shooting. Among them are: Avis Budget Group, Enterprise Holdings, MetLife, United and Delta.
Georgia lawmakers voted to yank a tax break for Atlanta-based Delta on March 1 after the airline severed ties with the NRA.
The bill cleared the state House with an overwhelming 135-24 vote, after being approved in the state Senate on a 44-10 vote. It was then sent to the governor’s desk.
The final version dropped an earlier amendment that would have renewed a jet fuel tax exemption worth $50 million that was taken off the books in 2015.
“Businesses have every legal right to make their own decisions, but the Republican majority in our state legislature also has every right to govern guided by our principles,” said Lieutenant Gov. Casey Cagle, who threatened to kill the airline tax break days prior to the vote.
The threat prompted liberal governors nationwide to court the airline, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who tweeted his support and encouraged Delta to move its headquarters north.
“Now more than ever the NRA is showing just how out of step they are with the American people,” Cuomo said in a statement, calling the NRA’s agenda “dangerous.”
The NRA has fired back at companies like Delta – and at the lawmakers encouraging them – for allegedly not supporting the Second Amendment.
“Ultimately, our members are passionate #2A supporters. Having those on the left pushing for a boycott to pressure companies to drop discounts just shows how out of touch some are,” the NRA said on Twitter.
Fox News’ Jennifer Earl, Matt Finn, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.