The Florida students who galvanized into a national gun-control movement after their high school was the site of a mass shooting have released a sweeping gun control proposal that they say the next president and Congress must take on to address the epidemic of gun violence in America.
March for Our Lives, a group created by survivors of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, released its plan on Wednesday, a day after President Trump backed off from previous statements that he was open to gun regulations in the aftermath of the shooting massacres in El Paso and Dayton earlier this month.
“The next President must act with a fierce urgency to call this crisis what it is: a national public health emergency,” the group writes on its website.
“They must acknowledge that the level of gun violence in the U.S. is unprecedented for a developed nation – and only bold, new solutions can move the needle on the rates of gun injuries and deaths. They must recognize that gun violence has many voices in our communities, from rural suicides to intimate partner violence to urban youth violence to violence driven by white supremacist ideologies. And they must commit to hold an unpatriotic gun lobby and gun industry accountable not just for weakening our nation’s gun laws, but also for illegal behavior in self-dealing that offends and contradicts America’s vast majority of responsible gun owners.”
The plan is ambitious. It calls for Congress to pass legislation to raise the national standard for gun ownership, a national licensing and registry system, and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
It also calls for a “red flag” legislation that would disarm gun owners who pose a risk to themselves or others, and a national gun buy-back program to reduce the estimated 300 million-plus guns by at least 30 percent.
And that’s not all.
The plan also calls for “accountability for the gun lobby and industry,” and calls for a new National Director of Gun Violence Prevention to work with agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Centers for Disease Control. The plan calls for the National Director to oversee a “down payment” of $250 million in annual funding for research by the CDC and other federal agencies on ways to prevent gun violence.
It also calls for automatic voter registration when those eligible turn 18 and a “Safety Corps” for gun violence prevention.
The announcement comes a day after Florida House Democrats called for a special session in the Legislature to address gun safety measures. While Republican leaders said they don’t support the effort, the Florida Secretary of State’s office has received enough letters to trigger a vote. By law, all members of the Legislature will be polled on whether convene a session, and it needs approval by a three-fifths majority. With Republicans opposed, that appears unlikely.
March for Our Lives evolved from events that took place just days after the Parkland shooting massacre in February 2018 which killed 17 people and wounded 17 others. Some 100 students from Parkland traveled to Tallahassee, joining hundreds more supporters, a week after the mass shooting. They protested at the Capitol to demand gun restrictions and sparked the first substantive actions by the Legislature to restrict guns in a generation.
The students were also awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize.