WASHINGTON – Florida Democrats joined calls for gun control after the school shooting in Florida, a tragedy that revived a debate that has little traction in Washington.

"There have been 18 school shootings since the start of the year. This is not normal. This is not natural. This is not, and can never be, the cost of living in America," said Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee.

"The stranglehold of the gun lobby has gone on long enough. They have divided our country and washed their hands of responsibility, even as schools and neighborhoods bear the brunt of gun violence every single day. I am sick and tired of feeling the heartbreak of communities ripped apart by this violence."

Seventeen people were killed and 15 injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, an hour northwest of Miami.

The shooter had been expelled from the school, and a former classmate Eddie Bonilla, told CBS Miami he knew Cruz.

"He got kicked out of school last year," said Bonilla. "He always had guns on him and stuff like that."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston said:

"No American anywhere should have to feel the pain that Broward County feels today, and too many communities have felt across our country countless times before. We must do something about this senseless epidemic of gun violence and we must do it now."

But as other Democrats echoed those words, history shows that gun control measures face a tough road.

Florida Republicans expressed the same shock and sympathy but there were not calls for a look at guns. Said Sen. Marco Rubio on Fox News:

"I think you can always have that debate. But if you're gonna have that debate about this particular incident you should know the facts of that incident before you run out and prescribe some law that you claim could have prevented it."

"I've seen a lot of that on TV, and maybe there is a law that could have prevented this instance. But we don't know that and neither do they."