Students Emotional at Florida Capitol as Lawmakers Refuse to Debate Assault Weapons Ban

Dozens of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students arrived to Florida’s capital on Tuesday with one goal in mind: Change the state’s gun laws.

But when lawmakers in the statehouse declined to take up any gun legislation, the already raw emotion took an intense turn in the gallery of teenagers whose worlds were turned upside down barely a week earlier.

Among the most memorable moments from inside the capitol building in Tallahassee came when Stoneman Douglas student Sheryl Acquaroli, 16, wept after the vote.

“Today was draining and frustrating but it was also amazing at the same time,” the teen tweeted along with a photo she took with Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives Carlos G. Smith, who sponsored the legislation. “So happy to have people like him on our side.”

There were 71 nay votes to 36 yeas and 13 non-voting legislators. Smith, who represents Orlando, responded angrily following the vote. 

“17 pp in Parkland were just murdered w/an AR-15, + the FL House just passed @RossSpano’s HR 157 declaring PORN as a public heath (sic) risk. No, GUN VIOLENCE is a public health crisis + Spano blocked HB 219 banning assault weapons in his committee for 2 yrs,” said Smith.

Many students were still en route to Tallahassee when the vote took place and on Wednesday still intended to meet with legislators.

Meanwhile, suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of 14 students and three staff members who police say he killed on Valentine’s Day.

Attorneys for Cruz have said the 19-year-old will agree to plead guilty if the death penalty is taken off the table.


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