TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Students, teachers, and parents from Parkland loaded into buses after a day of intense lobbying at the Capitol.
Their final meeting was with Governor Rick Scott to discuss guns and school safety.
“I felt it went well. He was very receptive to what we were saying,” said student Isabella Pfeiffer.
Some felt he didn’t hit the points they were most interested in – like gun control.
“It definitely could have gone better. I wasn’t super thrilled with it..We didn’t really get to talk about gun control,” said student Daniel Duff.
Earlier, more than 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High were joined by elected officials and gun safety advocates to discuss the critical need to take action against gun violence.
“I sat hiding in a closet fearing for my life for my future when all of us are that future. If we are going to protect our future, why aren’t we protecting our children,” said Stoneman Douglas student Ashley Santorum.
The students and their supporters want stricter gun laws for those with mental illnesses and a ban on assault rifles. The fight won’t be easy in Florida where gun laws are some of the least restrictive in the country.
“We’re here to try and make a change. This cannot happen again. These 17 people did not have to die. We need stricter common sense gun control, this should not be happening,” said Haley Stave.
Many students rallied outside the House chamber, angry and upset about Tuesday’s vote to not allow discussion on an assault weapons ban.
“We just want answers, we want them to speak,” said student Ericka Charles.
Students also broke up into smaller groups and spread out to individual lawmaker’s offices who voted against allowing the debate.
One group went to Rep. Jose Oliva’s office from Miami-Dade. He voted no. It’s not clear if he was in or did not want to meet with the students but they vented their frustration to his staff.
“How would you feel if that was your child wondering if she would ever see you again? I bet you damn well that bill would have been passed by now,” said one student.
At the governor’s office, students tried to deliver boxes of petitions. They weren’t able to see him without an appointment but he agreed to see them later.
The Parkland students made appointments to meet with up to 70 lawmakers including a question and answer session with Senate President Joe Negron.
“I have a question that I would really like a direct answer to. Why would a general civilian need a gun such as an AR-15 which was constructed to kill, it’s a military weapon not meant for self-defense,” Olivia Feller asked.
Negron did not answer directly.
“I think that’s an issue we are going to look at as we work on developing a legislative response and I appreciate your point of view on that,” he said.
That response fell flat among the students.
“I think that it is disrespectful to the victims, its a dishonor to the youth in this country, everyone in this country, it disappoints me for the future about politicians really taking action. We are so optimistic that we really could make a change,” said Feller.
Another group met with State Attorney Pam Bondi.
“The Attorney General was incredibly helpful. We focused on mental health with her. We have really good ideas coming up to protect the kids in the state of Florida,” said Jaclyn Corin.
Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano has a proposal in development. It calls for the possibility of raising the age to 21 to buy an assault rifle, a ban on bump stocks — that’s the device used in the Vegas shooting to allow faster fire, implementing a three day waiting period for gun purchases and to close screening loopholes especially relating to mental illness. For the students, it’s a start.
Just after noon, students held a rally on the steps of the Capitol. Others held a press conference inside to speak about their experiences & plans for action.
“I don’t wish what happened to us on my worst enemy. 17 classmates and teachers were murdered. Could have been prevented. How many more have to die before something changes,” said student Sophie Whitney.
“The only reason we have gotten so far is because we are not afraid of losing money, getting re-elected. The only thing we have to gain is our safety,” said student Delaney Tarr.
The students plan to stage a ‘March For Our Lives’ rally in Washington D.C. next month.