HATTIESBURG, Ms (AP) - The sheriff of the Florida county where a shooter killed 17 people at a high school last week has ordered all deputies who qualify to begin carrying rifles on school grounds.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference Wednesday that the rifles will be locked in a patrol car when not in use until the agency secures gun locks and lockers.
The sheriff said the school superintendent fully supports his decision.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High's school resource office was carrying a weapon when the shooting happened last week but did not discharge his firearm. It's unclear what role he played in the trying to thwart the shooter and whether he was aware of suspect Nikolas Cruz's past behavior at the school. The sheriff said those details are still being investigated.
About 30 people demanding a conversation about gun legislation have begun a sit-in protest at the office of four Florida House Republican leaders.
Fifteen-year-old Tyrah Williams said Wednesday that she wants to know why they won't consider bills to create more gun restrictions.
The sophomore at Leon High School, which is walking distance to the Capitol, says the leaders were not talking to the protesters, "so we're just sitting till they speak."
The Leon County school superintendent allowed students to leave class to take part in an anti-gun rally outside the Capitol. Williams said she would have attended even if he didn't.
Democratic candidate for governor Chris King was among two busloads of people who drove up from Orlando and St. Petersburg for an anti-gun rally. He acknowledged that if he were elected, gun-control measures probably wouldn't pass the Republican-controlled Legislature but said he would be in a position to veto expansions of gun rights.
Florida's Republican legislative leaders say they are going to move ahead with a "sweeping" bill that responds to the shooting at a high school that left 17 people dead.
The legislation will include substantial increases in money spent on mental health programs and school resource officers. Lawmakers are considering a program promoted by one Florida sheriff that calls for law-enforcement training and deputizing someone who is allowed to carry a weapon on campus.
Legislators may also enact a waiting period for rifle purchases and raise the legal limit from 18 to 21. Florida now has a three-day waiting period for handguns.
Students from Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School visited the Capitol on Wednesday to talk to lawmakers.
Rep. Jose Oliva, a Miami Republican who met with some of the students, said he understands "there is a tremendous amount of emotion around this subject."
Several hundred people have protested outside of the Florida House of Representatives while lawmakers were in session.
The protesters were upset Wednesday that the Republican-controlled chamber refused to take up a measure a day earlier that would have banned assault rifles and large capacity magazines.
The crowd burst into chants of "vote them out" and "we're students united, we'll never be divided." The noise could be heard inside the chamber but business went on uninterrupted.
Rep. Evan Jenne graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The Democrat was among others from his party who spoke to the crowd. Jenne told the students to take ownership of the movement.
About 2,000 students, parents, teachers and supporters held hands and chanted outside of Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School one week after the shooting there.
They chanted "never again" and "I will not be a victim" and joined hands and held them aloft at about 2:20 p.m. Wednesday. That's about the time the Feb. 14 rampage began.
Seventeen people were killed in the attack. As the students gathered in Parkland, thousands of people were 400 miles away in Tallahassee, urging lawmakers to take action on gun laws.
Vice President Mike Pence says the administration is putting "renewed energy" into making schools safe.
Pence spoke Wednesday at the meeting of the National Space Council at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He took a moment to talk about the terrible school attack last week.
He says he will be returning to Washington to join the president for "a listening session" with students, parents and teachers from not only Parkland, Florida, but other communities that endured similar shootings, including Columbine and Sandy Hook.
Pence is chairman of the newly revived space council, an advisory group that is pushing commercial space and expeditions to the moon.
Thousands of people have converged on Florida's Capitol to urge legislators to pass tougher gun laws.
Students from Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School spoke Wednesday to reporters inside the Capitol while several thousand people rallied outside the building. She described lawmakers inaction on a bill Tuesday that would have banned assault rifles and large capacity magazines as "absolutely abhorrent."
The students entered a gun-friendly political climate in Tallahassee, where lawmakers have rebuffed gun restrictions since Republicans took control of both the governor's office and the Legislature in 1999.
Outside, the crowd burst into chants of "Vote them out" as speakers called for the removal of Republican lawmakers who refuse to address gun control issues. One sign read "Remember the men who value the NRA over children's lives" and then listed Republicans in Florida's Congressional delegation. Another sign said: "Kill the NRA, not our kids" and "These kids are braver than the GOP."
A student who survived the high school shooting in Florida last week is speaking out at the state Capitol about his experience.
Lorenzo Prado said Wednesday that he was mistakenly identified as the gunman after the shooting last week. Prado says SWAT team members held him at gunpoint and took him into custody before eventually releasing him. He says he feared for his life and also felt guilty for those he couldn't protect and those who died. He became emotional at times during his speech.
He says he is at the Legislature to urge lawmakers to change gun laws. He is one of hundreds of students there to try to sway lawmakers to take action.
A number of students at a Florida high school walked out of their classrooms to remember the 17 students killed last week at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The students at Western High School in Davie, Florida, were also protesting gun violence during the walkout Wednesday morning.
Students carried large signs, each listing the name of a school where a shooting has taken place, along with the date of the shooting and the number of dead. Others carried signs with #NeverAgain.
Students at schools across Broward and Miami-Dade counties in South Florida planned short walkouts Wednesday, the one week anniversary of the deadly shooting.
Kirsten Anderson, a sophomore at Western High, told NBC6 that students will be signing a large banner, which will be taken to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High to offer support to students and teachers.
Democratic Sen. Lauren Book of Broward County helped organize the busloads of students who came to the Florida Capitol to push for gun legislation after last week's deadly shooting at a high school.
Book says she spent the night with the students in Tallahassee's civic center. She said many of the students were up until 5 a.m., getting only an hour or two of sleep before walking to the Capitol.
She says they "were working and writing and talking about the things that are important to them."
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have been calling for gun safety legislation since a shooting rampage at the school killed 17 people.
Students from the Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed in a shooting rampage split into several groups to meet with lawmakers and other state leaders in the state's capital.
One group met with Attorney General Pam Bondi behind closed doors to talk about mental health issues and later joined other students in a question and answer session with Senate President Joe Negron and Senators Rob Bradley and Bill Galvano.
Some tearfully asked why civilians should be allowed to have weapons like the AR-15 used in the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Negron didn't directly answer the question, saying, "That's an issue that we're reviewing."
The students burst into applause when Galvano said he supports raising the age to purchase assault-style weapons from 18 to 21.
Students from the Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed in a shooting rampage got little sleep as they prepared for a day of meeting with Florida's legislative leaders in Tallahassee.
The contingent of about 100 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students traveled to the state capitol by bus from South Florida, arriving Tuesday night at Leon County High School, where they were greeting by fellow students.
They spent the night at the Leon County Civic Center. Democratic State Sen. Lauren Book, who paid for the bus trip, traveled with the students and stayed with them at the civic center. She said they were up until almost 5 a.m. preparing for remarks they want to make during the meetings with lawmakers as they push to ban the assault-style rifle used to kill 17 people at the high school in suburban Fort Lauderdale.
On Wednesday morning, they made the short walk to the capitol to meet with leaders, including Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The group will return home later Wednesday.
The day before 17 people were gunned down at a Florida school, a co-worker says the suspect made plans to go with him to a shooting range.
Brian Halem tells the Miami Herald he asked 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz for his phone number last Tuesday so they could coordinate a weekend trip to Gun World of South Florida. "Save it as, 'Crazy Nick,'" Cruz told his new friend.
Halem, a 19-year-old college freshman, worked with Cruz at the Dollar Tree in Parkland and says they bonded over enthusiasm for firearms. He describes Cruz - now charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder - as a "walking dictionary" who "knew guns inside and out."
In hindsight, Halem says conversations about tactics like wearing a gas mask during a firefight might have been a red flag. But Halem says he was shocked by the shootings.
Students who survived the Florida school shooting are preparing to flood the Capitol pushing to ban the assault-style rifle used to kill 17 people, vowing to make changes in the November election if they can't persuade lawmakers to change laws before their legislative session ends.
About 100 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students arrived at a Tallahassee high school to extended applause late Tuesday after a nearly eight-hour trip.
Despite their enthusiasm and determination, the students and their supporters aren't likely to get what they really want: a ban on AR-15s and similar semi-automatic rifles. Republican lawmakers are talking more seriously about some restrictions, but not a total ban.
Some restrictions could include raising the minimum age to purchase the weapon to 21 and creating a waiting period.