High school students who survived a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this month, met with high-profile congressional leaders this week, including House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday.
Ryan expressed a willingness for “moving quickly” on proposals to address gun violence after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students urged the Wisconsin Republican for action, according to Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents Parkland, Florida and who attended the meeting.
“They don’t want to simply have conversation,” Deutch told reporters. “They want action taken to try and prevent what happened at their school from happening anyplace else.”
Asked if the speaker was open to the things they wanted, Deutch said the students have been clear in pushing specifically for a ban on assault-style weapons, banning high-capacity magazines and universal background checks, but that Ryan made it clear some of those things don’t have broad support. All three of those proposals appear to have significant opposition in both chambers in Congress.
“They had a good discussion about the Constitution, about constitutional rights,” Deutch said. “The students are very well-versed on the Second Amendment.”
He said the students pressed for a debate on the floor and a vote and the speaker was open to moving something.
“These students understand that the reason they came up here is to make sure that this debate doesn’t stop, that they’re not going to let it stop,” Deutch said.
Earlier Tuesday during a news conference, Ryan signaled he isn’t supportive of the proposals to impose new restrictions on gun purchases, telling reporters “we shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens.”
“Of course we want to listen to these kids, but we also want to make sure that we protect people’s due process rights and legal constitutional rights while making sure that people who should not get guns don’t get them,” Ryan said. “This kid was clearly one of those people.”
The students who survived that mass shooting have been a powerful political force, and met with other congressional leaders while in Washington, including with House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, himself a survivor of gun violence after he was shot last summer at a congressional baseball practice. Some students also met with the House Democratic Caucus earlier Tuesday.
During a CNN town hall last week that featured survivors and some slain victims’ families, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said he was reconsidering his position on high-capacity gun magazines and said he supported raising the age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.