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Top Florida Republican unveils gun control plan after Parkland school massacre

Jeremy B White

A prominent Florida Republican said the state legislature will take up a package of gun control measures in response to a deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school.

In the week since an assailant killed 17 people at the Parkland school, students and teachers who survived the attack have demanded tougher gun laws. State senator Bill Galvano, tabbed to lead Republicans if they retain their Senate majority after the 2018 midterms, aligned himself with that call to action the day of the shooting.

“There is no reason I should be safer in the state capitol than our children are in their schools,” Mr Galvano said in a statement. “Enough is enough something must change”.

Amid intensifying calls for a legislative response, Mr Galvano detailed a slate of bills that includes measures to raise the age for buying assault weapons from 18 to 21, to institute waiting periods for rifle purchases, and to ban a device called a “bump stock” – used by suspected Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock – that harnesses recoil to allow more rapid firing.

Another proposal would authorise law enforcement to temporarily strip guns from people deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others. Similar laws are on the books in other states.

Shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz had been repeatedly identified to authorities. Multiple agencies reportedly looked into a video in which he cut himself and talked about wanting to own a gun, and the FBI said it failed to investigate a tip that he was armed and had the “desire to kill”.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has repeatedly endorsed the underlying idea of barring people with mental illness from possessing firearms, as has Gov Rick Scott.

“How do we make sure that individuals with mental illness do not touch a gun”? Mr Scott, a Republican, said last week as he described the agenda he would discuss with state legislators.

The package does not contain a ban on assault weapons, which Mr Galvano characterised to the Miami Herald as a heavy lift politically.

The White House has also expressed a willingness to engage on gun control, with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying Donald Trump had spoken to Texas Republican John Cornyn about his bill to tighten federal background checks for gun buying.