US Gun Retailer Pledges to End Sale of Assault Rifles as Florida Shooting School Reopens

A police officer comforts a pupil

A US gun retailer has pledged to stop selling assault rifles, as the Florida high school where 17 people were shot dead reopens.

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High returned to classes for the first time since one of America’s deadliest mass shootings on 14 February.

Many of the students carried white ribbons and white roses in memory of the victims.

Since the massacre, survivors have become vocal advocates for gun law reform, leading a national boycott campaign, appearing on TV shows and organising mass street protests.

Their return to school coincided with a pledge to end the sale of assault-style rifles by a major US gun retailer.

Dick’s Sporting Goods said on Wednesday that it would immediately end sales of the deadly firearms and would not sell any guns to people under 21.

Gunman Nicholas Cruz had legally purchased a gun at a Dick’s store, the retailer’s chairman Edward Stack said, although it was not the gun used in the massacre.

Mr Stack said the company “felt it needed to do something” and that lawmakers must act to change the current system – which he argued was unable to prevent dangerous people buying guns.

Around 50 heavily armed police officers were present at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High as students returned to classes on Wednesday.

But while law enforcement was meant to help the community feel secure, it was viewed with suspicion by some survivors of the massacre.

“This is a picture of education in fear in this country. The NRA wants more people just like this, with that exact firearm, to scare more people and sell more guns,” said student David Hogg, who has become a vocal campaigner for gun reform since the massacre.

“I know one of those bullets could be shredding through me if I was misidentified as a school shooter,” he added.