It’s been two weeks since a gunman walked into a high school in Parkland, Florida and massacred 17 students and faculty members – and those who survived the shooting are not giving up their fight for stronger gun control efforts.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teenagers have become front and center of the gun control debate, organizing an upcoming national school walkout, meeting with President Trump, lobbying state lawmakers and participating in protests.
After the Feb. 14 shooting, several ideas have been floated by the White House, Democrats and state officials in order to combat gun violence. 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.
The Florida House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines to pass a statewide program that places trained, armed teachers in classrooms, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
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 Gen. 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.”
Senators Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., have also voiced support for raising the minimum age to purchase certain types of guns.
“Certainly, nobody under 21 should have an AR-15,” Roberts said.
However, National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch said the powerful gun lobby does not support raising the age limit to purchase certain firearms.
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 recent 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 on Feb. 28 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
In wake of the high school shooting, multiple companies cut ties with the National Rifle Association, the powerful nonprofit that advocates for gun rights.
Among the companies that severed ties with the NRA are: Avis Budget Group, Enterprise Holdings, MetLife, United and Delta.
After Delta announced it was severing ties with the NRA, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted his support.
“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.”
Others disagreed with the company’s decision.
“I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA,” Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle replied to the news. “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”
Several lawmakers then encouraged the company to move its headquarters from Georgia.
“While Georgia politicians may disagree with the airline’s principled stand, we here in the Empire State welcome Delta with open arms, and invite them to move their headquarters here,” Cuomo said.
“Hey @delta—Virginia is for lovers and airline hubs. You’re welcome here any time,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam added.
The NRA slammed companies like Delta – and lawmakers encouraging them – for 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 tweeted on Feb. 27.
Fox News’ Jennifer Earl, Matt Finn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.