Student and parent activists from the Florida high school where 17 teens and staff members were slain in a shooting rampage will hold a rally on Wednesday at the state capital, calling for a ban on assault-style rifles.
Last week's massacre, the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in US history, has inflamed a national debate about gun rights and prompted young people from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and across the United States to demand action for stricter firearms controls.
"We're here to make sure this never happens again," Diego Pfeiffer, a senior at Stoneman, told a crowd that included hundreds of students from a Tallahassee high school on Tuesday after arriving at the capital.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student expelled from Stoneman Douglas High for disciplinary problems, was arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Authorities say he was armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 assault-style rifle that he legally purchased from a licensed gun dealer last year, when he was 18. The Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives rebuffed a bid to bring up a bill to block sales of assault-style rifles in the state.
Florida's legislature has taken up at least two bills during its current session intended to provide broader access to guns. But signaling a possible shift, state Senator Bill Galvan, the chamber's next president, called for a bill to raise the legal age limit for purchasing assault rifles from 18 to 21, the same as it is for handguns. The legislature's current session ends on March 9, leaving little time for a vote.
Students and parents elsewhere in Florida and in other states, including Tennessee and Minnesota, staged sympathy protests on Tuesday. Miami's WTVJ-TV showed video of about 1000 teens and adults marching from a high school in Boca Raton to the site of the Parkland shooting, about 20km to the west.
Australian Associated Press