Florida school massacre survivors push lawmakers for assault gun ban

Some of the hundreds of West Boca High School students arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after they walked there in honor of the 17 students shot dead last week on Feb. 20, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 21 February 2018
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Florida school massacre survivors push lawmakers for assault gun ban

TALLAHASSEE, Florida/WASHINGTON: Dozens of teenaged survivors of the second deadliest public school shooting in US history marched on Florida’s capital on Wednesday to ask lawmakers to ban sales of assault rifles of the sort used to kill 17 students and educators last week.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, became the latest school targeted by a gunman using a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle, heated up the nation’s long-running debate about gun rights and public safety.
Dressed in jeans and T-shirts and carrying signs with the slogan “#Neveragain,” survivors of the Feb. 14 mass shooting met with lawmakers in Tallahassee, to ask for stricter controls on gun sales.
Investigators said the assault was carried out by 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, who purchased an AR-15 nearly a year ago. Police have charged Cruz, who had been kicked out of Douglas for disciplinary problems, with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
“We want to see some common sense gun laws so this will never happen again,” said Rachel Padnis, a 16-year-old sophomore from the school near Fort Lauderdale.
She and classmates said they were dismayed but undeterred by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature’s Tuesday rebuff of a bid to bring up a bill to block sales of assault rifles.
President Donald Trump, a strong supporter of gun rights, was due to meet later Wednesday with parents, students and teachers who have been victims of gun violence, including those affected by the Valentine’s Day shooting in Florida.
The White House meeting comes a day after Trump said his administration would take steps to ban bump stocks, an accessory that enables a rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute. A spokeswoman said the administration was open to the idea of setting national age limits on sales of assault rifles.
Florida state Sen. Bill Galvan, slated to be the upper chamber’s next president, has called for a bill to raise the legal age for purchasing assault rifles from 18 to 21, the same as it is for handguns.
At the Florida capital in Tallahassee, dozens of students packed into a meeting room and peppered Senate President Joe Negron, a Republican, with questions about why individuals should have continued access to assault rifles.
Negron declined to say whether he would support any specific gun control measures, saying, “That’s an issue we’re going to look at as we work to develop legislation.”
Trump talks
US President Donald Trump, a strong supporter of gun rights, was scheduled to host a “listening session” with high school students and teachers at the White House on Wednesday.
Trump’s support for any tightening of gun laws would mark a change for a Republican who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association gun lobby during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The NRA opposes an outright ban on bump stocks but has said it would be open to restrictions on the devices.
Under pressure after Parkland, the deadliest-ever shooting at a US high school, Trump on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to quickly complete a proposed rule that would treat “bump stocks” as machine guns, which could effectively outlaw them in the US.
Last October, a retired real estate investor and high-stakes gambler used multiple assault rifles equipped with bump stocks to kill 58 people at a Las Vegas outdoor concert, the deadliest attack by a single gunman in US history. Bump stocks have not played a prominent role in other recent US mass shootings.
Later this week, Trump will meet with local and state officials, and plans to talk with governors about the issue.
Trump generally favors a Senate bill on background checks, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday.
Calls for national student walk-outs and marches in the coming months have gained steam on social media, including the “March for Our Lives” on March 24 in Washington, spearheaded by Douglas students.
Scattered school walkouts in support of the Florida students were planned around the US on Wednesday, according to officials and local media.
The NRA has agreed to participate in a televised town hall on guns to be broadcast by CNN later today, the news network said. NRA officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Gun violence on public school and college campuses has become so commonplace in the US in the last several years that administrators regularly stage drills to train students and staff in the event of a mass shooting.


Japan orders quake shock absorber maker to replace parts after fake data

Updated 49 min 29 sec ago
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Japan orders quake shock absorber maker to replace parts after fake data

TOKYO: Officials in Japan, one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, on Thursday ordered a company that falsified data on the quality of its quake shock absorbers to replace its products in hundreds of buildings.
KYB Corp, a major producer of the devices used to reduce shaking in a quake, said on Tuesday that data related to their quality and that of products made by a subsidiary, had been falsified since 2003, and possibly even as far back as 2000.
Government officials said there was no risk that buildings would collapse as a result, even in a severe quake, but they were trying to determine how many structures were affected.
The company said at least 900 buildings around Japan had used products that could be involved in the data falsification.
The operator of the Tokyo Skytree, a 634-meter (2,080-ft) -high tower that is one of Japan’s biggest tourist attractions, said it had installed KYB products, while Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said they had been used in at least seven buildings owned by the metropolitan government.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism urged KYB to take full responsibility and determine how the falsification happened, to take steps to replace the shock absorbers and make sure it never occurs again.
“This action, which has brought deep concern to building owners and users as well as weakening public trust about safety, is extremely regrettable,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said it had been told KYB products were used at several venues for the summer Olympics, but did not identify them or give any other details.
“We are aware that the Tokyo metropolitan government has already requested the company to inspect the products, and we will wait for further updates,” said spokesman Masa Takaya.
A Tokyo government official said it was possible KYB products had been used in the aquatics center and an arena to be used for volleyball, which are both under construction, but authorities were awaiting further information.
The most common of several types of shock absorbers used in buildings features a piston that moves inside a cylinder filled with silicone oil.
Shares of KYB ended trade down by 10.92 percent.