Florida students turn to activism in wake of shooting




Thousands gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Saturday to mourn the victims of a deadly school shooting and demand action from politicians amid a renewed debate over the nation's gun laws.
The rally was the culmination of three days of grief and anger that followed the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, roughly 25 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, that left 17 people dead and 14 others injured. 
But amidst speeches from elected officials and school administrators, it was students – the survivors of the shooting – who led calls to restrict access to firearms. 
The aftermath of mass shootings in America have become familiar. Democrats call for gun control, hashtags in solidarity with survivors trend on social media and many call for thoughts and prayers.
But in the wake of this week's shooting in Parkland, the students who survived are not content with thoughts and prayers.
"The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call 'B.S.,'" Emma Gonzalez, a student at the school, said. "We are prepared to call 'B.S.'"
Gonzalez delivered an emotional plea for new gun restrictions in a speech on Saturday, blasting President Trump, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and lawmakers for what she deemed to be their self-serving and ultimately hollow responses to the shooting.
Many students held signs demanding new action on gun control. "My friend died for what?" read one sign. "Stop gun violence now," read another. 
The suspected shooter was identified Wednesday as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the high school who was expelled for disciplinary reasons. Cruz later confessed to carrying out the attack. He was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Cruz allegedly carried out the shooting with an AR-15, an assault-style weapon that he purchased legally roughly a year earlier from a dealer in nearby Coral Springs, Fla. 
The chorus of students calling for policymakers to address gun violence crescendoed throughout Thursday and Friday. 
In a Thursday morning interview with CNN, Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg pleaded directly to lawmakers, calling the rash of mass shootings in American schools "unacceptable."
"You need to take some action and play a role," Hogg said. "Work together, come over your politics and get something done."
At a Thursday night vigil for the victims of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, chants of "no more guns" broke out among the crowd.
On Friday, Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old junior at the high school, penned an op-ed for CNN, in which he declared that politicians had "abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools." 
“But this time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account," he wrote. "This time we are going to pressure them to take action."
And as Trump prepared to travel on Florida on Friday to meet with first responders and families of victims, dozens of students gathered at a nearby high school to protest the president's gun policies and the influence of the NRA. 
The protests show no signs of fading. 
source: thehill.com

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