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Students stage 'lie-in' outside White House demanding gun law reform

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Dozens of teenagers have protested outside the White House demanding gun control as the president spent the holiday in Florida.

Dozens of teenage students have held a "lie-in" on the pavement in front of the White House to demand presidential action on gun control after 17 students were killed in a school shooting in Florida.

The teenagers were also joined by parents and educators. The protesters held their arms crossed at their chests. Two activists were covered by an American flag, another was holding a sign asking, "Am I next?"

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest in favor of gun control reform in front of the White House, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, in Washington.
Demonstrators hold signs during a protest in favor of gun control reform in front of the White House, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, in Washington.
AAP

Ella Fesler, a 16-year-old high school student in Alexandria, Virginia, said, "It's really important to express our anger and the importance of finally trying to make a change and having gun control in America."

She added, "Every day when I say 'bye' to my parents, I do acknowledge the fact that I could never see my parents again."

US President Donald Trump was at his Florida golf club, about 64km from the site of the school shooting.

Abby Spangler and her sixteen year-old daughter Eleanor Spangler Neuchterlein hold hands as they participate in a "lie-in" during a gun reform protest
Abby Spangler and her sixteen year-old daughter Eleanor Spangler Neuchterlein hold hands as they participate in a "lie-in" during a gun reform protest
AAP

The White House says President Trump supports efforts to improve federal background checks for gun purchases.

Trump spoke to Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, on Friday about a bipartisan bill that he and Democratic senator Chris Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Monday.

"While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system," Sanders said in a statement.

Previous mass shootings in the United States have also stirred outrage and calls for action to tighten US gun laws, with few results in congress.

Trump, who visited survivors of the shooting and law enforcement officials on Friday night, is a strong supporter of gun rights and won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby group, for his 2016 presidential campaign.

Many Republicans generally oppose measures to tighten gun restrictions, citing the US Constitution's Second Amendment protection of the right to bear arms.

Former president Barack Obama and many of his fellow Democrats unsuccessfully pushed to pass gun control legislation after a gunman killed 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

Cornyn and Murphy introduced their bill to improve federal background checks last November, days after a gunman killed more than two dozen people in a church in Texas.

The bill, called the Fix NICS Act, would ensure that states and federal agencies comply with existing law on reporting criminal history records to the national background check system.

Cornyn, of Texas, had complained when introducing the legislation that compliance by agencies was "lousy".
Students are planning a "March For Our Lives" in Washington on March 24 to call attention to school safety and ask lawmakers to enact gun control.

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