Parkland massacre survivors unveil sweeping US gun-control plan

A young boy places rocks on a card at the pile of flowers that had gathered a day after the shooting in El Paso, Texas. (Reuters pic)

NEW YORK: Survivors of the Parkland, Florida, high school massacre on Wednesday released a sweeping gun-control plan that would ban assault-style rifles and take other steps in hopes of halving US firearms deaths and injuries.

The proposal included a measure to register more young voters, and the group’s leaders addressed it to candidates seeking the 2020 presidential nomination, urging them to make gun control a top priority.

“We urge them to take a look at this agenda,” Tyah Amoy-Roberts, a former student who survived the shooting, said in a statement. “We cannot allow mass shootings in grocery stores, churches, shopping malls, and schools to be the new normal.”

The former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students have worked to inspire a sense of urgency about gun violence since they started the national campaign “March for Our Lives” after a former student massacred 17 people with an assault rifle at their high school on Feb 14, 2018.

Their plan comes the same month that saw 31 people killed in back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, within 24 hours.

The steady drumbeat of shootings has provoked limited federal action. Days after the twin massacres, President Donald Trump publicly mulled backing stronger background checks for gun buyers but by this week Congressional Democrats were accusing him of backtracking after a meeting with the National Rifle Association gun lobby.

The NRA and gun-rights supporters say the Second Amendment of the US Constitution blocks most restrictions on gun ownership. NRA officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The Parkland student’s plan calls for several hard-line gun control measures, including a national gun buy-back and disposal program, a federal system of gun licensing that requires background checks and annual renewals, and it urges politicians to declare a national emergency around gun violence.

The plan also calls on the government to automatically register all US citizens to vote when they turn 18, a measure that March for Our Lives has pushed in an effort to turn out the youth vote and sway elections to yield tighter gun policies.

March for Our Lives and ally Giffords are planning an Oct 2 forum for 2020 candidates to discuss gun violence.