Florida families torn apart by school shooting lobby Congress

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A Florida father who lost his daughter calls for gun reform on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers from his state, and across the country can only find limited common ground when it comes to what to do.

Voices of those permanently scarred by shootings echoed through the halls of Congress Wednesday. Fred Guttenberg's 14-year-old daughter Jaime died last month when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida.

"The last time I ever saw my daughter, I don't remember if I said I love you," he said while holding back tears, "it haunts me to this very minute."

17-year-old David Hogg lost friends and classmates that day. He shared his plea with a group of Democratic senators via video conference. "Now is the time that we need to take action," he said, "how many more children are going to need to be slaughtered?"

Congress is considering at least 15 new bills since Florida's mass shooting. But, on Capitol hill, gun reform proposals rarely becomes law.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) said he wants to convince colleagues on the left and right that stronger background checks, banning assault rifles would save lives.

Asked about measures that fall short of what he proposes, Nelson said, "you have to start with whatever you can get, so we'll get whatever we can get and then we will continue on."

Nelson said he hopes his state does not need to suffer through another mass shooting, after living through three in the last two years. Florida has seen three in the last two years. "We've certainly had, unfortunately, our fair share of mass shootings," he said.

"The best way to stop these things from happening is to find out who's going to do it and stop them before they do it," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida)

Rubio said Congress has the votes to upgrade school security, improve risk assessments, and require the FBI to notify local authorities when someone fails a background check while trying to buy a gun.

Doing anything more, he said, will take time. "Step one, let's pass the things we agree on, and step two, we should have a debate," he said.

Immediately after the Florida shooting, Rubio surprised some political observers by voicing a willingness ban bump stocks and raise the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifles to 21.

Rubio said he's confident the president will take care of banning bump stocks through executive action.

As for raising bumping the age requirement, he said he's open to voting for that. "But, that's an issue that doesn't have widespread support, that's not going to happen overnight," he said.

"I'm not saying not to talk about it, not to try it, I'm just saying that has to be part of step two," he continued, "let's take care of the things we agree on first and then once we get those things out of the way you have the momentum and the space to debate the things we do not have widespread agreement on."

The families that spoke Wednesday said they'll keep coming back until Congress acts. A well-publicized gun reform rally is scheduled for March 24th.

To watch our full interviews with Sen. Rubio and Sen. Nelson click on the videos above.



 
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