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Lawmakers, advocates against gun violence hold rally to ban semi-automatic guns

Gail Schwartz, who lost nephew in Parkland massacre, shares story at event
Rally held in West Palm Beach pushing for the ban of semi-automatic guns
Posted at 5:31 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 20:46:07-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Several gun safety organizations joined two South Florida members of Congress in West Palm Beach on Wednesday to applaud the recent passage in the House of Representatives on the ban on certain semi-automatic guns.

The bill now goes to the Senate where it will likely stall in filibuster because of a lack of support among enough Republicans.

But that possibility did not sway some from feeling a sense of accomplishment after weeks of lobbying House members in Washington.

Among those attending Wednesday's rally were some who are carefully following the sentencing trial for the Parkland gunman.

On the steps of the West Palm Beach Police Department, Gail Schwartz stood in a crowd and stood out among them.

"My sweet 14-year-old nephew, Alex, died at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre," Schwartz said to those in attendance.

Gail Schwartz, chairperson of Ban Assault Weapons NOW, speaks at event in West Palm Beach, Aug. 3, 2022
Gail Schwartz speaks about the agony of losing her nephew in the Parkland school shooting in February 2018.

Losing her loved one lit a fire in her campaign for more gun safety laws.

Schwartz is the aunt of Alex Schachter, who died during the shooting at the Parkland school in 2018.

She is the chair of the organization called Ban Assault Weapons NOW and said she will likely return to Washington to lobby senators.

U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, both Democratic lawmakers from South Florida, were in attendance.

"Thank you, thank you, all of you behind me for what you do to try and keep our families safe," Frankel said.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., speaks at a West Palm Beach event held on Aug. 3, 2022, to push for a ban semi-automatic weapons
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., speaks at a West Palm Beach event held on Aug. 3, 2022, to push for a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

"It was literally one the hardest things I have ever had to do, try repeating the stories of the worst day of your life over and over again," Schwartz said. "We poured our hearts out to legislators. We shared the heartbreaking stories."

Those stories are now being repeated by families of victims in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom at the sentencing trial for the Parkland shooter.

It's something that Schwartz said she hopes everyone can watch.

"It's heartbreaking all over again," Schwartz said. "It's the nightmare that literally never ends."

Sam Schwartz, recent graduate of Dreyfoos School of the Arts and advocate against gun violence, speaks at event, Aug. 3, 2022
Sam Schwartz, a recent graduate of Dreyfoos School of the Arts and advocate against gun violence, speaks at a West Palm Beach event held on Aug. 3, 2022, to push for a ban on assault weapons.

As heartbreaking as their story is, she and her 18-year-old son, Sam Schwartz, who will soon be off to college, keep trying to tell their story to anyone who will listen.

"To a certain demographic, they don't want to hear it," Sam Schwartz said.

"I don't want any more family members to suffer the way my family has suffered," Gail Schwartz said.