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Sen. Dick Durbin praises Florida teens for speaking out against assault weapons

“Are we numb?” asked Sen. Dick Durbin, during a stop in Rock Island. “Are we paying attention? Do we care?”

ROCK ISLAND -

As the nation learns from the tragedy at a Florida high school, assault weapons and the mentally ill are a lethal mix.

"Who needs an AR-15, honest to goodness, or an AK-47?" asked Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Ilinois, during a stop in Rock Island on Tuesday, February 20.

Sen. Durbin is renewing the call for more stringent checks to keep assault weapons away from the mentally ill.

"When we put that kind of weapon in the hands of a 19-year-old who is mentally unstable, we just invite the disaster that happened in Parkland, Florida," he continued.

While the call for action isn't new, those pleading this time sound louder, stronger and more united.  They are the teenagers touched by the latest school shooting.

"They're amazing," Sen. Durbin said.  "They were succinct. They were direct, and they weren't taking no for an answer."

Those teens just might be lighting a fuse for wavering lawmakers.

"Can Washington respond to it?" Sen. Durbin asked.  "I hope so."

He says it will take voters to get the ball rolling.  Voters who want to stop wondering if their kids will come home from school alive.

"Right now, the gun lobby is too powerful politically and overwhelming any of these sentiments which appear after these tragedies," he said.

Tragedies that seem to fade with time.  It will take strong voices to sustain momentum into the future.

The subject really hit home when Sen. Durbin's six-year old granddaughter described what to do during a school shooting.

"I don't know how any sane person in America can say, well, that's acceptable, that's part of a Second Amendment nation," he said.  "The heck it is."

Right now, it seems like a pivotal point in this national discussion.

"We have been through this over and over and over again," he concluded.  "The obvious question is: Are we numb? Are we paying attention?  Do we care?"

The teens will be watching.

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