- Wednesday’s deadly shooting at a high school in Florida sparked a nationwide uproar against lax gun-control regulations.
- Survivors of the Florida shooting and activists demanded a range of measures, including a ban on assault weapons like the AR-15, which was used in the Florida shooting.
- A nationwide student walkout against gun violence is planned for next week as gun-control advocates call on Congress to do more.
Survivors of the Florida school shooting lashed out at lawmakers, gun advocates, and even President Donald Trump on Saturday at a fiery rally demanding immediate gun-control measures in the wake of Wednesday’s massacre.
Hundreds of people gathered in Fort Lauderdale to mourn the 17 lives lost in nearby Parkland and demand Congress to do more to prevent future mass shootings.
“No more guns! No more guns!” the crowd chanted.
Students, teachers, and local officials took turns giving impassioned speeches before the crowd, simultaneously celebrating those who died and blasting inaction from lawmakers in Washington.
One of the Florida shooting survivors, Emma Gonzalez, a Stoneman Douglas student, excoriated Trump and the National Rifle Association.
“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” Gonzalez said. “But, hey, you wanna know something? It doesn’t matter because I already know: $30 million.”
Gonzalez also slammed Trump for a recent tweet that some perceived as placing blame on former classmates of suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz for not contacting authorities. She demanded Trump explain how much he believed America’s gunshot victims were worth.
“If you don’t do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you,” she said. “To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.”
- Reuters/Jonathan Drake
Gonzalez has been far from the only student at Stoneman Douglas speaking out against gun violence. David Hogg, a senior at the school, has been particularly vocal.
“Some of our policymakers and some people need to look in the mirror and take some action because ideas are great, but without action, ideas stay ideas and children die,” Hogg said on CNN Thursday.
Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat who serves Florida’s 22nd congressional district, also attended the rally and said the House of Representatives will propose legislation next week that would ban semi-automatic assault rifles, like the one used in Wednesday’s shooting.
Deutch implored students at Stoneman Douglas and others throughout the country to continue speaking out.
“It is just not acceptable to ever think that it should be commonplace in our country for people to send their kids to school in the morning and not know if they’re going to come home at the end of the day,” Deutch said.
He also laid out four other measures for Congress to consider: preventing people on the no-fly list from purchasing firearms, subjecting every gun buyer to a full background check, banning high-capacity magazines, and increasing the minimum age requirement to buy a rifle to 21.
Protests spread across the US
- Jonathan Drake/Reuters
The tragedy in Parkland has sparked pro-gun-control rallies beyond Florida.
A day after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, gun control advocacy groups occupied the Massachusetts State House, demanding action on a bill that would prevent individuals who pose extreme risks to themselves or others from possessing a firearm.
In San Diego, more than 100 people gathered in support for a ban on assault weapons. Hundreds more convened outside NRA headquarters in Virginia, criticizing the influence the gun rights lobby has on politicians.
On Friday, a group called ‘Student Walkout Against Gun Violence,’ which appears to have been launched in response to the Florida shooting, said it is planning a nationwide walkout sometime next week in schools across the country to demand action.
CALLING ALL STUDENTS????
In response to the Florida shooting, there will be a nation-wide walkout held next week.
Take action. Start planning with friends and classmates. Spread the word.
Walkout time/date to be released by Monday the 19th.
— Student Walkout Against Gun Violence (@studentswalkout) February 16, 2018
Gun control remains a hot-button political issue on Capitol Hill. Though mass shootings tend to elicit increased support from lawmakers in the immediate aftermath of the massacres, that support usually dies out in the following weeks and months.
Sen. Chris Murphy has been one of the more outspoken lawmakers on gun control. Amid the Florida shooting, Murphy lashed out at his colleagues on the Senate floor for failing to act.
“This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America,” Murphy, the senator from Connecticut, said. “This epidemic of mass slaughter – this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction.”