By Ellie Kreidie
After 17 students and teachers were shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day this year, the pressure on lawmakers across the country to deliver proper gun control legislation has ramped up. No place has felt that pressure more than Florida, where the shooting occurred, and where both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been forced into providing some form of legislation in response to the shooting.
On March 9, surrounded by the victims’ families, Governor Rick Scott signed the state’s first gun control measure in 20 years. Known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, the law aims to tighten certain gun control laws while also paving an easier way for some teachers in the state to have an armed weapon on school property. According to The New York Times, the gun bill is a victory for the young Parkland activists, as it was passed against the wishes of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Yet the Times notes that the biggest provisions sought by the activists, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, were left out.
The most controversial provision added to the legislation was the minimum age requirement to purchase a gun being raised from 18 to 21. As soon as the bill was passed, the NRA filed a lawsuit accusing the legislation of breaking the law. “Preventing a responsible 20-year-old from purchasing the best tool for self-defence will not stop a deranged criminal intent on committing a crime,” the lobby group said in the lawsuit. With 67 NRA-approved politicians–68 if you include Governor Scott–voting in favor of the legislation they strongly oppose, the NRA has concerns that further legislation like this will pop up around the country as the pressure piles on for other states to enact similar gun control measures.
The NRA’s response has been received with anger by those who are attempting to pass comprehensive gun control. “If [the NRA] have such a problem with young adults being treated as ‘second class citizens’ because they are unable to purchase a gun at 18, they’re not looking at the situation through the lens they are meant to,” said Tima Alabbas (‘21). “For one, it’s not about the money in the NRA’s pockets, it’s about the lives of ‘second class citizens,’ young people, being cut short due to the guns the NRA helps sell every single day.”
It remains to be seen how politicians will respond to the thousands of students across the country that have joined together in solidarity, speaking their minds and demanding real gun control.