Sports & General

US’ Harris to visit Parkland shooting site, push new gun laws


U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a visit to the St. Paul Health Center, a clinic that performs abortions, in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S., March 14, 2024. REUTERS/Nicole Neri/File photo


By Trevor Hunnicutt

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday will push states to strengthen laws that can strip firearms from high-risk people as she visits the Parkland, Florida, high school where a gunman killed 17 people in 2018.

Harris is traveling to meet with families of the victims and see Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the murders happened, according to a White House official.

“Red flag” laws allow courts to issue “extreme risk protection orders” removing firearms from individuals considered at risk of harming themselves or others.

Six U.S. states both have such laws and are tapping $750 million available under the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to implement crisis intervention programs, the official said.

As part of her visit, Harris will call for 29 other states that have no such laws to pass them and encourage 15 more states that have the laws to start using the available federal funds.

Florida approved a red flag law after the 2018 shooting but has not used the federal funding, according to the official.

The Parkland shooter, a former student there who was 19 at the time, had been seen for mental health issues. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

The building where the shooting took place is scheduled to be demolished this year. It has remained largely unaltered since the 2018 shooting, with bloodstains and bullet holes still visible.

Some advocates regard the red flag laws as violating their constitutional right to bear arms, while gun safety advocates point to some studies showing they can prevent some deaths.

President Joe Biden has made gun violence a key issue in his 2024 reelection bid and tapped Harris, a former prosecutor, to oversee the effort. Both have traveled across the country to meet with people whose families died in mass shootings.

The United States has the highest level of firearm homicides among high-income countries with populations over 10 million, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Biden, a Democrat, wants Congress to approve a new assault weapons ban and to require background checks for all U.S. gun sales. Each measure will be difficult to pass in a divided Congress. Republican candidate Donald Trump has previously supported red flag laws but opposed broader measures favored by Biden.


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