Lawmakers feel pressure on guns

Lawmakers say they are feeling more pressure than ever to act on gun control after the latest deadly mass shooting at a public high school.

A large reason, aides and lawmakers alike say, is the emotional pleas from students who survived the shooting — and who have expressed horror at the idea that nothing will be done in response to the killings of their schoolmates.

The grass-roots movement, dubbed “Never Again,” has kept an extra layer of pressure on members to enact stricter gun laws and take other steps to prevent future massacres.

One legislative solution that appears to be gaining steam in Congress is a bipartisan bill to enhance background checks for gun purchases, which now has the support of President Trump, many Republicans and the National Rifle Association.

But even narrow gun measures that have the backing of the GOP and White House have stalled in Congress before, underscoring the challenge for lawmakers in overcoming the thorny politics that have long impeded efforts to address gun violence on Capitol Hill.

Still, the public outcry that followed last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has fueled some hope among gun reformers that the political winds are shifting in their favor.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) said the protests in recent days constitute “a new type of organic outcry,” one even more prominent than the demonstrations that followed a similar shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

“There just seems to be a lot more determination to get something done — to finally get something done,” Thompson said Tuesday by phone.

“Maybe it’s the organic nature, I’m not sure, but it just feels different. And God knows we need it to be different.”

Congress has repeatedly grappled with how to curb gun violence following various mass shootings over the past several years, including deadly massacres at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn., an outdoor concert on the Las Vegas Strip and a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

However, the calls for action from gun reform advocates, Democratic lawmakers and victims’ families have largely gone unanswered thus far. In the House, Republicans have repeatedly rejected the notion of even holding a hearing.

But after the latest deadly shooting rampage in Florida, high school students are taking the fight into their own hands — a powerful shift that appears to be having an impact on the national conversation surrounding the emotional and heated gun control debate.

Grieving students who survived the mass shooting have mobilized to form the “Never Again” campaign on social media to push for stricter gun laws in an effort to prevent another school shooting.

Young activists have been making impassioned pleas on national television, demanding action from their elected officials and organizing rallies, walkouts and marches — including one planned for Washington, D.C., on March 24.

“Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see,” Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said at a rally over the weekend.

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