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Carried out in a thousand battles within corridors of in Washington, Nancy Pelosi , the head of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives, believes that the winds have changed in the entrenched debate over weapons in the United States. 

Pelosi is confident that there are enough legislators who would support a package of deep restrictions on arms sales. 

“All we need is a vote. I think there are enough Republicans who would vote with us, “she said on the eve of marches against guns in the US by students from the school in Parkland (Florida), where 17 people died in a shooting in February .

“We have about 90% of Democrats and all we want is 10% of Republicans. We believe we could win the vote, “says Pelosi.

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Parkland activists

The congresswoman from California, who has supported Parkland activists and participated in Saturday’s demonstration in Washington, is “disappointed” by President Donald Trump’s stand on gun control. 

After the Florida massacre, the president said he would raise the minimum age to purchase a rifle from 18 to 21 years and toughen other requirements. 

But later he backed off and his main proposal is to allow groups of teachers to be armed. “I am disappointed but I would say that my expectations were not high. I expected more from him from the beginning but he changes his mind a lot, “says Pelosi.

Cooled expectations

The Republican control of both houses of Congress has also cooled expectations of deep reforms on arms. But Parkland’s pressure has forced conservatives to take some timid steps. 

The budget law, approved on Friday, includes aid to reinforce security in schools, in the investigation of deaths by firearms. The last significant legal change in arms control in the United States was in 2007, when the prohibition of gun sales to people with disorders and criminals was extended.

Blocking the road

Pelosi believes that pressure from student activists to make access to weapons more difficult, for example raising the minimum age to buy a rifle, holds the key to forcing the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican Paul Ryan, to submit those proposals to vote. 

“We are telling the young people: ask for a vote from congressmen and the president of the Chamber. That is what is blocking the road, “she says.

The Democratic leader said she is “absolutely convinced” that the slaughter in Florida in February has been a “turning point” in favor of greater controls, which was seen in the massive demonstrations on Saturday in 800 cities in the US and abroad.

“The absolute value of these young people to speak, to be heard, to leave their schools, to demonstrate for their lives in Washington. They have already made an impression, “she stresses. “They have started something that is different because what they are doing demonstrates their knowledge of the use of social networks and they have said: we are not going to stop, we have time, we would like to achieve this quickly but we will not finish until the work is finished”.

Florida massacre

The Democratic leadership trusts that the clamor against arms, caused by the Florida massacre, will become a central issue of the November legislative elections, in which the entire House of Representatives, one third of the Senate and the majority of state governor positions. 

The polls give the Democrats enough advantage to wrestle Republicans from the House, which presumably would make Pelosi president again. 

The struggle for the Senate is much closer.

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