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Florida lawmakers refuse to debate assault rifles, but declare porn a public health risk

FLORIDA — What’s more of a public health risk — assault weapons or porn?

Almost a week after 17 students and teachers were gunned down at a Florida high school, the state legislature voted 71-36 Tuesday against a measure to consider a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

But they declared pornography to be public health risk.

The decision not to consider an assault rifles ban outraged survivors of the massacre.

A hundred Stoneman Douglas High School students traveled 400 miles from Parkland to the state capital and camped out overnight at the Tallahassee civic center, waiting for speak with legislators and the governor Wednesday.

“We’re all here because we need to strive for change, and the legislation needs to change, because we’ve fallen victim to lazy legislation for far too long,” student Kai Koerber said.

Almost all 71 lawmakers who voted against considering a assault rifle ban have an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.

Sheryl Acquaroli, a 16-year-old junior from Stoneman Douglas, later cried as she talked on “Anderson Cooper 360˚.”

“It was just so heartbreaking to see how many (voters’) names were up there, especially after it was my school,” Acquaroli said. “It seemed almost heartless how they immediately pushed the button to say no.”

Spencer Blum, one of her schoolmates, said he felt like lawmakers weren’t representing him and other survivors of the shooting.

“That’s unacceptable,” he said of the vote, adding later: “It shows that they don’t care about us.”

Sheryl said the next person who is killed by an AR-15 like the one used at her school will be the fault of the 71 people who voted no Tuesday.

“They had a chance to stop it today,” she said. “If there is another mass shooting (in Florida) it’s going to be their fault.”

House Rep. Kionne McGhee of Miami invoked the Parkland shooting in requesting that HB 219 — which would ban AR-15 rifles and other guns defined as “assault weapons” and large capacity magazines — be moved from committee to the House floor for questions, debate and a vote.

“I ask that you keep this bill and the conversation about the solution to combat mass shootings alive,” McGhee, Democratic ranking member on the Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee, told the House before the vote.

“While this is an extraordinary procedural move, the shooting in Parkland demands extraordinary action.”

With subcommittees set to consider the bill not scheduled to meet this session, the bill is effectively dead, McGhee said.

The bill’s sponsor angrily took to social media.

“17 pp in Parkland were just murdered w/an AR-15, + the FL House just passed @RossSpano’s HR 157 declaring PORN as a public heath risk. No, GUN VIOLENCE is a public health crisis + Spano blocked HB 219 banning assault weapons in his committee for 2 yrs,” said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith from Orlando.

The state’s House of Representatives approved the porn resolution, sponsored by Rep. Ross Spano, who is running for attorney general, the Associated Press reports.

While some questioned the timing of the bill, Spano said research shows a connection between porn use and mental and physical illnesses, forming relationships and other “deviant” sexual behavior.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, held a roundtable on school safety Tuesday. He said he planned to have a proposal by Friday.

“My goal is to come up with something that is going to move the needle and make parents feel more comfortable that their kid’s going to go to a safe school. That’s the goal,” he said. “These kids have got to go to safe schools.”

Under the rallying cry #NeverAgain, dozens of students and staff who survived the Florida school shooting departed earlier Tuesday for the Capitol, where they hope to speak with lawmakers Wednesday about school safety and gun control.

While some students had arrived at the Capitol earlier and were there when the vote took place, many taking buses were eating at an Orlando rest stop when they learned of the legislative defeat.

Diego Pfeiffer, 18, a senior at Stoneman Douglas, acknowledged the issue has multiple perspectives and likened the need to toughen gun control to the fight to end slavery and the suffrage movement.

“On great decisions in the past, there have been two sides and the good side always wins out in the end, and that’s what I am hopeful for when I get to Tallahassee,” he said.

The students arrived at Leon High School in Tallahassee late Tuesday. Several hundred supporters cheered them on.

“We’re fighting for the friends we lost. We’re fighting for the future kids that we’re going to have, and that’s why we’re marching and that’s why we’re here talking to our senators and our representatives,” Sofie Whitney told the crowd.

Pfeiffer said: “This isn’t about school shootings, and this isn’t about … violence anymore, this is about hope. This is about moving forward with everybody. This is about you guys. This is about everybody here making a difference.”