US: Students appalled as lawmakers debate porn instead of gun laws

On Tuesday – barely a week after the latest shooting at a school in Florida – House Republicans decided to forgo a debate suggested by the Democrats on banning assault weapons in the state in favour of discussing pornography.

The proposed Bill (HB 219) on gun control would see the possession and sale of semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines – like the one used by the shooter in Florida – made illegal.

The Bill has yet to make it to the House floor for debate and vote. As protests rage from students, families and the general public over gun regulation in the US, Democrats attempted to move the proposal directly to the floor, not following usual protocol.

However, it was voted down by Republicans, 71-36.

Survivors of the high school massacre, many of whom were in attendance watching from the visitors’ gallery, were in shock, taking to Twitter in disgust.

“How could they do that to us? Are you kidding me??? #NeverAgain,” student Emma González, who has become somewhat of a figurehead for the #NeverAgain movement, wrote on her Twitter. “We are not forgetting this come midterm elections — the anger that I feel right now is indescribable.”

Democrats have claimed Wednesday’s massacre, which took 17 lives, increased the urgency of gun control.

“I ask that you keep this Bill and the conversation about the solution to combat mass shootings alive,” said Democrat Member of the Florida House of Representatives Kionne McGhee told The Miami Herald. “While this is an extraordinary procedural move, the shooting in Parkland demands extraordinary action.”

The Bill is sponsored by Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando who knew some of the victims of the nightclub massacre in Orlando in June 2016.

Smith readily attempted to debate an assault weapons ban on the House floor but was cut off immediately by Republican Representative Ross Spano. Following the failed discussion on gun laws, another Bill (HB 157) was brought up: claiming pornography is a public health risk.

“Porn is more important [to Republicans],” The Miami Herald reported Smith told reporters. “Has anyone had to bury their child because of pornography? He [Spano] has made that a priority above gun violence. He needs to own that.”

Currently, in Florida, a swing state controlled by the Republicans, it is legal for an 18-year-old to purchase semiautomatic weapons exactly like Cruz did. However, the Republican party’s response to gun control and ever-growing concerns over the state of assault weapons in Florida and the US, on the whole, could culminate in the Democrats gaining control and rethinking gun laws, according to The Miami Herald.

State Senator Bill Galvano of the Republican party is invested in changing the laws on gun purchase, including a law that would make 21 the new minimum age to purchase a military-style rifle.

However, he also wishes to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom, after undergoing extensive training, in order to ‘protect’ themselves and their pupils.

Armed officers already patrol campus, but Galvano claimed this is not enough.

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