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  • Joe Raedle/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Distraught teens dressed in black were seen wiping away tears as they left the funeral of a classmate killed in a Valentine's Day massacre at a South Florida high school.Services began Friday for the victims who were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday.The service for Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, was held Friday morning.Seventeen people -- including students, a teacher and a football coach -- who were killed in the rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The suspect, a former student, was arrested and has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.Alyssa's mother, Lori Alhadeff, with tears on her face, made an emotional plea in an HLN interview Thursday, urging action. "President Trump, please do something! Do something. Action! We need it now! These kids need safety now!" she said."How do we allow a gunman to come into our children's school? How do they get through security? What security is there?" Lori Alhadeff said, according to CNN. "The gunman -- a crazy person -- just walks right into the school, knocks down the window of my child's door and starts shooting. Shooting her -- and killing her!"The funeral for Meadow Pollack, 18, a college-bound senior, was set for Friday afternoon.The 18-year-old was "a beautiful girl, inside and out," her cousin Jake Maisner said, according to The Sun Sentinel.Meadow was the youngest of 10 grandchildren, Maisner said.“She was the baby of the family," he said, according to the Sentinel. "Everyone wanted to protect her."Pollack had been accepted to Lynn University in Boca Raton, according to ABC affiliate WPLG-TV."Meadow was a lovely young woman who was full of energy," said university spokeswoman Jamie D'Aria, according to WPLG-TV. "We were very much looking forward to having her join our community in the fall."Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One relatively unknown tool for stopping gun violence may soon get a lot more attention.An extreme risk protection order (ERPO) empowers family members and police to take guns away from a person who may pose a danger to themselves or others. The person's access to firearms is blocked until they can demonstrate that the risk is over. Essentially, ERPOs are a temporary restraining order for guns.As of now, only Washington, California, Connecticut and, most recently, Oregon have ERPO laws, while Indiana and Texas have modified risk warrant statutes. Over the past year, however, spurred by a string of mass shootings -- beginning with the Pulse nightclub attack that killed 49 in June 2016 -- legislatures in 19 states and Washington, D.C., have taken up 32 separate ERPO bills for consideration, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control.Everytown’s deputy legal director, William Rosen, told ABC News that list will grow. “We expect to see at least as much interest in 2018,” he said.“There is a growing consensus that this is the first step we should be taking when we are talking about people who are at risk of hurting themselves or others,” said Lauren Alfred of the gun violence prevention group Sandy Hook Promise.Current laws barring gun ownership are limited. Generally, a person with a long history of mental health issues can still legally buy or possess firearms if they don’t fall into specific statutory categories such as having been adjudicated mentally ill or under a domestic violence restraining order. But, as was the case with Texas church gunman Devin Kelley, even these restrictions may not work if the person’s troubled past is not recorded on a background registry.With an ERPO, however, if family members or police can show a gun owner to be an imminent danger to themselves or others, they can force the person to surrender their weapon(s).Mass murderers such as Aaron Alexis, who killed 12 at the Washington Navy Yard, or Elliot Rodger, who slaughtered six in Isla Vista, California, are cited by experts as people who might have been halted by ERPOs."Those were both cases where law enforcement believed those shooters might be a threat to their workplaces or people they knew,” Alfred said. “But law enforcement felt like their hands were tied."Where ERPOs are believed to be most often effective is in stemming suicides. For example, Everytown cites a study of the law in Connecticut -- where it has been in place the longest --  that states that from 1999 to 2013, "for every 10 or 11 gun removal cases, one suicide was averted -- an estimated 72 averted suicides.”While there is a clear spike in the number of states considering ERPOs, efforts to implement these laws have faced significant resistance from those who want to protect constitutional rights to gun ownership.As Oregon’s state legislature was considering its ERPO law this summer, the National Rifle Association said in a statement that the bill “would allow people who are not mental health professionals, who may be mistaken and who may only have minimal contact with the respondent to file a petition with the court and testify on the respondent’s state of mind.”The ERPO “strips the accused of their Second Amendment rights" and "would be issued by a judge based on the brief statement of the petitioner,” the NRA's statement added.The answer to such concerns embedded in these laws is that courts must show “substantial evidence” that a person is a risk to themselves or to others. In addition, the removal of the firearm is only temporary -- generally a year -- unless the ERPO is renewed in a later hearing. These measures have "overcome a lot of the Second Amendment legal and political concerns," according to Alfred.While it is impossible to determine how many of the recent shooting tragedies
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  • George Frey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz mowed down at least 17 adults and students at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, he was armed when an AR-15-style rifle that he purchased legally.AR-15-style rifles have become something of a weapon of choice for mass shooters. One was used last year to kill 26 people during Sunday-morning church services in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And it was among the stockpile of firearms used a month earlier to kill 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas.AR-15-style rifles were also used at the shootings at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida; at an employee training in San Bernardino, California; and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.So why is this type of weapon so popular among mass shooters? Gun experts told ABC News it has nothing to do with the AR-15's lethality, but rather simple familiarity.“In the U.S., our go-to rifle is the AR-15. It’s known as the American rifle,” former SWAT team member and gun expert Dean Hazen said. “Most police departments carry it; our military carries a militarized version of it. In some mass shootings, the shooter had low knowledge of firearms. They just grabbed what they know, and that’s the AR-15.”Pete Blair, executive director of Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center -- which studies mass murder -- echoed Hazen's comments.“The AR is the most popular rifle platform in the U.S.,” Blair said.The fact that so many mass shooters are using the same gun is what sociologists call “social proof,” he added.Hazen said this phenomenon takes place when one is in an "ambiguous" situation and don't know how to proceed. "That can be looking at what silverware other people use at a fancy dinner party and copying them, or it can be using the same type of weapon other shooters have used if you’re planning a mass shooting.”Hazen added, "It’s a copycat thing. When they see other mass shooters use it, it reinforces the image in their mind that this is the evil tool to use.”The NRA said the AR-15 has “soared in popularity” because it is “customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate” and “can be used in sport shooting, hunting and self-defense situations.”Blair doesn’t believe those are the reasons why mass shooters are choosing the AR-15, though.“I don’t see a lot of customization happening with the guns mass shooters use. They’re pretty much using the stock AR, which is easy to operate and straightforward,” Blair said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(SPARTANSVILLE, S.C.) -- A juvenile was arrested in South Carolina on Thursday after posting to social media a message that warned of a shooting rampage similar to the attack that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday in Parkland, Florida, officials announced Thursday night.The social media post in question, which was shared by the Broward County Sheriff's Office, features a photo of the suspect holding a firearm. The unidentified individual's face is blurred in the version distributed by officials. Across the image is a banner that reads "Round 2 of Florida tomorrow."The Broward County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Thursday, "A recent post with the title 'Florida Round 2' and the image of a male with a firearm and a mask has been circulating over various social media channels. We have investigated the origin, and the original poster was arrested by local authorities in South Carolina."The statement continued, "Variations of the post have continued to be circulated over social media with captions added to warn people not to go to various schools throughout South Florida. The posts being circulated are being monitored for any violations of law or threats to public safety."The Manatee County Sheriff's Office, located on the state's Gulf Coast, also confirmed that the image did not represent a "local threat.""Our detectives have confirmed it is a photo of a juvenile in Spartanburg, South Carolina," read a tweet from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. "He has been arrested."The Broward County Sheriff's Office warned would-be copycats, "Remember, any posts that appear to be threatening in nature or are of a concern to a user should be brought to the attention of law enforcement, who will monitor and investigate the validity and attempt to identify the source.”
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Heavy rain and storms moved through Ohio Valley and parts of the Northeast overnight Friday, but it's a second line of storms that will bring snow to the region on Saturday.The storm system already brought snow to parts of Colorado, including up to 18 inches in some parts and a few inches west of Denver.A winter storm watch has already been posted for part of the I-95 corridor from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, including New York City, Hartford, Connecticut and Boston.The storm is expected to move east from the Rockies on Saturday and will move into the Washington, D.C., area around 5 p.m.The snow will begin in New York City around 8 p.m. Saturday evening.Snow begins in Boston closer to midnight.The heaviest snow is expected away from the coast -- west of Washington, D.C.; west of Philadelphia; north of New York City; and west of Boston, where 7 inches could accumulate locally.In the major cities along the I-95 corridor, it looks like there could be up to 1 inch in Washington, D.C.; 1 to 3 inches in Philadelphia; 2 to 4 inches in New York City; 4 to 7 inches in Hartford; and 3 to 6 inches in Boston.Temperatures will be mild -- just near freezing -- so most major roads will be wet. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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