After Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward

After Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward
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Lawmakers, activists and students are pushing for action on gun control in the wake of last week's deadly school shooting, but the public debate has not yet provided a clear path forward for future legislation.

While Democrats renewed calls for stricter gun laws in the last few days, the students who survived the shooting sought to impart a sense of urgency for change after 17 people were killed when a gunman opened fire last Wednesday on a school in South Florida.

Republicans, historically wary of addressing gun control legislation in Congress, have indicated they are willing to discuss some restrictions focused on gun safety and background checks. Others have advocated improving mental health access.

But while lawmakers and activists on both sides of the aisle agree on the need for action, on Sunday there was no consensus around a specific next step. 

“This problem is not going to be easily solved," Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersGillibrand unveils bill to offer banking services at post offices Webb: Bernie Sanders announces his ‘new’ communism jobs, health-care plan A new progressive standard on campaign cash: It can't come from corporations MORE (I-Vt.) told NBC’s “Meet the Press." "Nobody has a magic solution, alright, but we’ve got to do everything we can do [to] protect the children.”

Republican Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottPartisan tensions rise as Mueller bill delayed GOP dismisses report that tax law will add .9 trillion to debt Gowdy on video questions how long Pruitt is ‘going to make it’ MORE (S.C.) on Sunday expressed optimism that Congress can take up legislation to address background checks.

“Well, we are putting more pressure on our system, and to include in the Senate, to make sure that legislation gets to the floor,” Scott told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“The reality of it is that we have a sense of urgency about getting this done. And I'm very hopeful that this is the time that we see this nation's leadership united to solve a problem that could've prevented atrocities," he said. 

But Democratic Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsOvernight Defense: Pompeo clears Senate panel, on track for confirmation | Retired officers oppose Haspel for CIA director | Iran, Syria on agenda for Macron visit Pompeo headed for confirmation after surprise panel vote Pompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel MORE (Del.) said he isn't hopeful that Congress will take action on gun control.

"I am usually a very optimistic person. I worked tirelessly across the aisle… I am not optimistic that until there is real action by the American public to demand change in Congress that we're going to see real action to confront gun violence out of this Congress," he told CBS.

Many of Scott's and Coons' colleagues are pushing for talks on issues beyond reforming the background check system, and are impatient with what they see as resistance within Congress. 

Democrats, as well as many student activists who survived the Florida shooting, insisted that the powerful gun lobby is the main obstacle to legislative change.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffBannon directed Cambridge Analytica to research discouraging voter turnout, whistleblower says Overnight Tech: Cambridge Analytica whistleblower meets House Dems | SEC fines Yahoo M over email breach | Senators unveil internet privacy bill Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes MORE (D-Calif.) called on lawmakers to “stare down” the National Rifle Association (NRA). 

“And anyone who doesn’t, of any party, ought to fear the wrath of the voters,” Schiff told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week pushed the gun debate into the national spotlight for the second time in the last six months. But unlike calls after the October massacre on the Las Vegas strip, which focused on banning bump stock devices, lawmakers have posed multiple solutions.

Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyCambridge Analytica whistleblower briefs House Dems GOP chairmen say they have deal with Justice on documents Overnight Energy: Dems raise new questions about Pruitt's security | EPA rules burning wood is carbon neutral | Fourth GOP lawmaker calls for Pruitt's ouster | Court blocks delay to car efficiency fines MORE (R-S.C.) said Sunday that he supports a ban on any device that "converts" a semi-automatic weapon to a fully automatic one. 

“So fully-automatic weapons are already illegal. So I am fine with doing away with any instrumentality that converts a semi-automatic to a fully automatic,” Gowdy told CBS.

A bump stock is a device used to increase a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire and became the subject of political ire last year after the Las Vegas gunman reportedly used them when he opened fire on an open-air concert. 

The suspect in the Florida shooting last week allegedly used a legally purchased AR-15 to carry out the attack, placing the rifle in the center of the debate.

“The problem is not owning an AR-15, it's the person that owns it. Again, you go back to [not] the how of what particular weapon is chosen, it's the why. I have individuals in my neighborhood that own an AR-15,” Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordGOP moves to cut debate time for Trump nominees GOP advances proposal to change Senate rules Senators fume over fight to change rules for Trump's nominees MORE (R-Okla.) told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

“That doesn't make it a dangerous neighborhood or them dangerous individuals," he continued. "It's the individual ... that becomes the issue, not the weapon that they're holding.”

Student survivors of the Florida school are planning a march on Washington next month to demand action from the nation’s lawmakers. Some of the students have also targeted NRA political donations as a problem, or have raised questions about the younger age restriction for buying a "long gun" like the AR-15 in Florida — which is legal after age 18.

The newly-forged young activists are not yet pushing specific legislation, but are asking for swift changes.

“And at the end of the day this isn't a red and blue thing. This isn't Democrats or Republicans,” Cameron Kasky told CBS.

“This is about everybody and how we are begging for our lives and we are getting support. But we need to make real change here and that's exactly what we're going to do," he said.

-Updated 4 p.m.