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Can Florida’s massacre shame Congress into change?

Donald Trump has come under increasing pressure to bring sweeping changes to gun laws in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

The fact he has now directed the Department of Justice to propose a law to make bump stocks illegal, is significant.

It is at very least, a sign of willingness on behalf of the President to debate change the day before he meets survivors.

Image:Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at his former Florida school. Pic: Broward County Sheriff's Office

He is arguably pushing on an open door – but it has only recently been prized open.

Stephen Paddock, the man behind the worst mass shooting in modern US history, used the device to open fire on 22,000 people in Las Vegas and ignited a national debate.

Bump stocks transform semi-automatic rifles, described by some as "killing machines", into even more powerful weapons.

In the wake of the Las Vegas attack, The National Rifle Association called for "additional regulations" on the devices and some Republicans said they would consider backing an outright ban.

Stephen Paddock
Image:Stephen Paddock used bump stocks to maximise the victims of the Las Vegas shooting

It is however only the start for some of the young campaigners I spoke to on the ground in Parkland.

They believe it is low-hanging fruit for a Congress that desperately needs to make up for lost time.

The device after all, turns semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons, which are largely prohibited by federal law.

The parents and children I met in Parkland want a deeper conversation about the type of weapons used not simply the modifications that are added.

Emma Gonzalez speaks at a rally for gun control
Video:Shooting survivor questions Trump's NRA funding

The AR-15, the semi-automatic rifle bought by Nikolas Cruz, can be heavily customised, legally obtained within minutes and turned into something even more deadly.

Many of the teenagers, who saw their friends killed in the corridors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, want to see the AR-15 banned.

Age is also an issue – many despairing of the fact that an 18 year old who cannot drink a sip of beer legally, can purchase something that will allow them to carry out mass murder.

The victims of the mass shooting at a school in Florida
Image:The victims of the mass shooting at a school in Florida

In most states, the age limit for purchasing the AR-15 is just 18. The limit for handguns is 21.

Campaigners have also demanded concrete proposals from the government about how they will prevent guns from getting into the hands of people struggling with mental illness.

Critics might claim President Trump's announcement today is too little too late. But for those who have longed for progress, each step counts on the path to something more meaningful.

Donald Trump appears to have listened to the sharp criticism he received over the weekend.

David Hogg, A survivor of the Florida shootings, speaks his mind to give trump a message.
Video:Survivor to Trump: We need action, not lies

Tomorrow he will come face to face with a vocal and articulate group that have witnessed tragedy first hand. The White House know they need to be seen to listen.

Sandy Hook did not prove to be a moral tipping point for America. But this is a generation old enough to have a voice and they want to use it.

Politicians are still being paid by the NRA of course and guns are big business in America.

More from Analysis

But could the teenagers who grew up in the shadows of the Columbine Massacre and lived through their own school shooting, finally shame Congress into change?

It no longer seems out of the question.

Original Article

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