Florida leaders set to unveil gun safety plan

Marco Rubio.
Marco Rubio. Photo credit: Reuters

US Senator Marco Rubio says he will unveil a gun and school safety plan, a day after President Donald Trump urged lawmakers to pass key legislation aimed at preventing massacres like the one at a Florida high school last month.

Mr Rubio, a Republican, said the Bill was aimed at fortifying schools and preventing gun sales to dangerous or unstable people following the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead in his home state.

"We all agree that what happened in Parkland can never happen again anywhere & changes exist we can all get behind," Rubio said in a post on Twitter on Thursday.

He provided no other details, and a spokeswoman for the Senator did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a freewheeling White House meeting on Wednesday, Mr Trump told lawmakers to think big and embrace more expansive changes than the ones favoured by many in his party.

On Thursday, Mr Trump again urged congress to put forth a legislative solution as he prepared to host a school safety meeting at the White House later in the day.

"Many ideas, some good & some not so good, emerged from our bipartisan meeting on school safety yesterday at the White House. Background Checks a big part of conversation. Gun free zones are proven targets of killers. After many years, a Bill should emerge. Respect 2nd Amendment!" he tweeted.

Still, it was unclear whether the Republican-controlled congress would follow Mr Trump's lead or which plan lawmakers would support.

The Florida school shooting rekindled a sharp debate over guns in a nation deeply divided over how to balance gun rights and safety, with a call for legislation to curb gun-related violence driven by the students who survived the February massacre.

The issue is also likely to factor in November's midterm elections.

Mr Rubio, whose state saw 49 people gunned down at an Orlando night club in 2016, has said he does not support the arming of teachers, as Mr Trump has suggested, but was in favour of raising the legal age to buy more types of guns to 21 from 18.

Kroger Co said on Thursday it will stop selling firearms and ammunition to buyers under the age of 21 at its Fred Meyer stores, becoming the third major US retailer to set restrictions that are tougher than government regulations.

The announcement follows similar moves by Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods on Wednesday, two weeks after social media-savvy students ignited an intense debate on gun control in the US.

"Recent events demonstrate the need for additional action on the part of responsible gun retailers," Kroger said in an email.