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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Students, parents and anti-gun proponents across the country continue to hold vigils and plan marches to protest the lax gun laws in the United States. Their actions come following the horrific high school massacre last Wednesday in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead, including 13 students. Four others in the school were wounded.
The shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School -- the ninth deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history -- has led to a groundswell of national support for prompt action on stricter gun legislation.
Students who survived the attack journeyed by bus to Tallahassee to meet with Florida legislators and Governor Rick Scott on Wednesday.
“We are going to talk to them about common-sense gun safety,” senior Chris Grady, 19, told South Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper. “We hope to get a lot done, but we also know how politicians are.”
Florida Legislature Rejects Consideration of Ban on Semi-Automatic Weapons
But even as the students were on their way to Tallahassee, the Republican-controlled state legislature voted 71-36 against a measure to consider a ban on semi-automatic weapons like the one used in the Parkland shooting. The lawmakers did, however, declare pornography a public health issue.
Even President Trump, a firm supporter of the National Rifle Association (NRA), seems to have been swayed by the Parkland shooting. Trump said last weekend that he supports “a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases,” the Associated Press reported.
“Trump gave a nod toward a specific policy action with the White House saying he had spoken Friday to Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, about a bipartisan bill designed to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers,” the AP said.
The NRA was a major campaign contributor to Trump’s election campaign in 2016.
On Tuesday, the President ordered the Justice Department to work up a proposal to ban bump stocks. These simple devices make semi-automatic weapons more lethal by accelerating the speed of firing bullets.
New Poll Shows Two-Thirds of Respondents Favor Stricter Gun Laws
The latest Quinnipiac University poll conducted between February 16-19, just after the shooting, was released on Tuesday. It found that 66 percent of respondents favored stricter gun laws versus just 31 percent who oppose stricter gun laws.
The 2-1 margin was the highest level of support in the poll’s history. Gun owners favored stricter gun laws by a 50-44 percent margin.
By a margin of 67-29 percent, respondents favored a nationwide ban on assault weapons.
“Support for universal background checks is itself almost universal, 97-2 percent, including 97-3 percent among gun owners,” the poll noted.
Gun Owners Calling Attention to Lax Laws By Destroying Their Weapons
Some gun owners are taking a more definitive stance by destroying their weapons or handing them over to police, CNN reports. Some have used hashtags like #onelessgun or #oneless to document the destruction of their weapons and call attention to the need for more sensible gun laws.
Scott Pappalardo posted a video on his Facebook page on Sunday that shows him cutting up his AR-15 semiautomatic weapon, the same type of gun used in the Florida shooting. The video went viral and was viewed about 17 million times as of Tuesday morning, The Hill reported.
Pappalardo acknowledged that he was a “firm believer in the Second Amendment” and even has a tattoo to prove it. But Pappalardo added, “Ultimately, it’s a gun like this one that takes away the lives.” Then he proceeded to cut the weapon into three pieces with an electric saw.
Also among the first gun owners to publicly take such a stand was Ben Dickmann, a Florida resident who handed over his AR-57 rifle to the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Tamarac. In a Facebook post quoted by CNN, Dickman said, "I am a responsible, highly trained gun owner. (I am NOT a Police Officer or Sheriff's Deputy.) However, I do not need this rifle. No one without a law enforcement badge needs this rifle."
Iowa gun owner Amanda Meyer posted a Facebook video showing her gun’s destruction, observing: “I keep saying that people don't need rapidly firing guns. Today, I made it a reality, at least for myself. If you destroy a gun, be sure to report it to local law enforcement. Enjoy. #onelessgun #NRA #MAGA #guns #peace #getadog #2ndamendment #love #findyourway #parkland.
Meyer said she was not against using a shotgun for hunting. “But I don’t think that people need semi-automatic weapons.”
Destroying her gun was “something I wanted to do for a long time and when the shooting happened it took me over the edge," Meyer told CNN. "I was feeling uncomfortable for my morality and no longer wanted to participate in the gun culture."