House Democrats Invite Parkland Students To Intern For A Summer Of Gun Control Advocacy
Parkland students might be headed to Washington, D.C. again — this time, for more than a day. NBC News reports that a handful of House Democrats want Parkland students to intern for them in Congress, just two months after several of those students spearheaded the March For Our Lives protest in Washington to call for stronger gun laws. This newest effort is being spearheaded by Rep. Joe Crowley, chair of the Democratic Caucus, along with Reps. Linda Sanchez, Ted Deutch and Mike Thompson.
In a statement to Bustle, Crowley says that the Parkland students are "exactly the type of individuals" he wants to help work on gun control legislation in Congress, as they've "changed our national conversation on gun safety and gun violence prevention with their passion and courage," Crowley adds that he's looking forward to advancing "common sense" gun control with them.
Crowley, Sanchez, Deutch, and Thompson have sent a letter to their Democratic colleagues encouraging them to take on survivors of the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, as summer interns in their offices. A spokesperson for Crowley confirms to Bustle that three Parkland students have already approached the group to express interest in the opportunity.
“I would be thrilled if a significant number of them came up here and spent the summer helping to learn the system better so they will be even more effective advocates going forward,” Deutch, who represents the Florida district in which Parkland is located, told NBC News.
The February shooting in Parkland left 17 people dead, and many of the students who survived the massacre subsequently became vocal advocates for gun reform. But although some state legislatures have succeeded in passing new gun laws in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, the GOP-controlled Congress in Washington has not advanced any new gun control laws since then. In fact, Congress hasn't passed a major piece of gun control legislation since 1994, according to The Los Angeles Times, despite many attempts by Democrats to do so.
The Parkland survivors aren't a monolithic bloc — one of them is a vocal gun rights activist — and as such, they haven't endorsed any one single platform to reduce gun violence. But the March for Our Lives, which was co-organized by several Parkland students, does have a policy platform with five general proposals for gun reform: instituting universal background checks for gun purchases, banning high-capacity magazines, strengthening the ATF's regulatory power over gun sales banning assault rifles, and funding research into gun violence prevention.
House Democrats, meanwhile, have been pushing for stronger gun laws since long before Parkland, at one point holding a sit-in on the House floor to demand action from Republican leadership. They've stepped up their efforts since the Parkland shooting, proposing legislation that would ban assault rifles and, separately, a bill to provide federal grant money to states that enact Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) laws. GVRO laws can take several forms, but in essence, they allow family members or roommates of gun owners to petition a court for an order that allows law enforcement to temporarily confiscate that person's guns if they're deemed to be a threat to others.
Unlike most gun control proposals, GVRO laws have the support of some moderate Republicans. However, GOP leadership in the House have not put forth any GVRO bills, or any kind of gun control proposals, since Parkland, with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan saying in February that "we shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens."
On Tuesday, the National Rifle Association posted a video suggesting that, in order to reduce gun violence, Congress should pass laws limiting the media's ability to report on school shootings after they occur.