As her classmates travelled across the state, Florida school shooting survivor Sheryl Acquarola appeared devastated as state legislators effectively voted down a ban on assault weapons.
The 16-year-old survived the shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14 that saw 17 of her classmates and teachers shot to death, allegedly by a former student with an AR-15 rifle.
She was watching Florida representatives in the Republican-controlled house in Tallahassee who were considering a motion that would have moved a proposal for a ban on large-capacity magazines and assault rifles – like the one used to gun down people in her school – to a debate in the House.
The bill had been assigned to three committees but was not scheduled for a hearing.
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“While this is an extraordinary procedural move, the shooting in Parkland demands extraordinary action,” Democratic House Rep. Kionne McGhee of Miami said before the vote, according to CNN.
The motion failed with a 36-71 vote, mostly along party lines.
Because the committees will not meet again before the legislative session ends March 9, the move essentially extinguishes hope that lawmakers would vote on any sweeping measures to restrict assault rifles, although other proposals could still be considered.
Students along with Acquarola in the House appeared stunned as the motion was shot down.
Other students, including John Barnitt, were on their way to Tallahassee when they heard the news.
He said, like him, many of his classmates are channeling their grief into the movement, which uses the hashtag #NeverAgain on social media.
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“It’s really frustrating,” Barnitt told 680 CJOB.
“After all this hard work, and us being teenagers, we can’t see how they are viewing this at a different angle.
“If anyone has a heart they can realize that children’s lives are more important that money.”
Classmate Diego Pfeiffer told CNN that despite the result of the vote, he believes change will come eventually.
“As we know, a bunch of things happened in Tallahassee as we’re going up there, but I have to say that I understand that there are going to be different view points on this issue,” Pfeiffer said.
“You look at slavery, you look at the suffrage movements, all of these have had good and bad people, and the good always wins.”
“You’re either with us, or against us.”
Republicans criticized Democrats for forcing the vote.
“No one in the world with the slightest little hint of a soul isn’t moved by this tragedy,” Republican strategist Rick Wilson said. “The discussion has to be a longer, bigger and broader discussion.”
Republican and political author Dinesh D’Souza tried to make light of the situation, by sharing the picture of Acquarola crying saying “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.”
But Florida school shooting survivor quickly rebutted, writing on Twitter: “Actually for me the worst news I got was that 17 people died in my school. One of my best friends was shot twice.”
“But sure keep making us look like we don’t know anything when in reality what we’re doing is much much much bigger than you can imagine. ”
*with files from the Associated Press
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