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Students Press Florida Lawmakers On Gun Control


Teenagers led a protest on the steps of the old state house in Florida's capital yesterday. Survivors from the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School organized this rally to urge state lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws. NPR's Brakkton Booker was there.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) We won't stop. We won't stop. We won't stop. We won't stop. We

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: Stoneman Douglas student Florence Yared had a message for state lawmakers - change Florida's gun laws now or face consequences later.


FLORENCE YARED: We may be too young to vote, but soon we will be able to vote, and we will vote you out.


BOOKER: The hundred or so Parkland, Fla., students had meet and greets with their state legislators, including Governor Rick Scott. And student Alfonso Calderon pressed Senator Joe Negron on what gun reforms he is willing to support.


ALFONSO CALDERON: Are you willing to actually act on anything - yes or no? And also do you think you'd actually push for any policy yourself?

BOOKER: Negron said the Florida Senate has already begun working on a number of gun-related issues, but there are just a handful of legislative days left this session. That didn't sit well with classmate Ryan Deitich. He's one of 19 students who hid in a closet during last week's shooting rampage.

RYAN DEITICH: I have very little faith in my government already, but the more and more I see these guys weasel their way out of a simple question is just deplorable.

BOOKER: Deitich adds he not only feels like he's not getting straight answers but that he's being dodged by lawmakers.

DEITICH: This entire process is ridiculous. I've gone through a labyrinth of offices and secretaries to talk to literally no one who actually matters in this fight.

BOOKER: Rabbi Bradd Boxman is upset, too. He's wearing a black T-shirt with Parkland strong in bold, white letters.

Where are we headed right now?

BRADD BOXMAN: To Representative Spano's office to be able to have him look in our eyes, find out why he won't even have a discussion on this topic.

BOOKER: Spano's bill declaring pornography a public risk was approved this week, but a measure restricting semiautomatic weapons failed. When the group arrives at Spano's office, he's not there. Ian McConnell, his legislative assistant, is left alone to handle the crowd encircling his desk.

IAN MCCONNELL: Right now, he's in committee meetings, so he's not able to meet at this moment, so if you want to leave me some information that I can pass along to him...

BOOKER: After a brief back and forth, the group sets off down the hall. The new mission - find another committee meeting with the hope that lawmakers can look into the eyes of the Parkland survivors and explain how another tragic event will happen never again. Brakkton Booker, NPR News, Tallahassee.

(SOUNDBITE OF LOWER SPECTRUM'S "SANCTITY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.