Parkland: As they prepare to fight a long battle for stricter gun control laws, students of Florida high school where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting a week ago on Wednesday night confronted lawmakers and the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA).
At a town hall program hosted and televised by CNN on Wednesday night, survivors of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, demanded change in gun laws from Washington and the powerful gun lobby.
The attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and educators were slain on February 14 in the second-deadliest shooting at a US public school, has revived the long-running US debate over gun rights.
Investigators said the assault was carried out by 19-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz, who purchased an AR-15 nearly a year ago.
Students galvanized by the deadly mass shooting confronted Senator Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson Rep. Ted Deutch at the townhall about whether they would support banning certain assault-style rifles and refuse to take money from the NRA. “We would like to know why do we have to be the ones to do this? Why do we have to speak out to the (state) Capitol? Why do we have to march on Washington, just to save innocent lives?” asked senior Ryan Deitsch. Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed at Stoneman Douglas, told Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida that his comments and those of the president’s in the past week had been “pathetically weak.”
“Sen. Rubio, I want to like you. Here’s the problem. … Your comments this week and those of our President have been pathetically weak,” he said. “Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in the school this week.”
Rubio, in reply, said, “I’m saying that the problems we are facing here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone.”
He said he would support a law that would prevent 18-year-olds from buying a rifle as well as a ban on “bump stocks,” an accessory that enables a rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute.
Cameron Kasky, a junior at the school, asked Rubio to turn down campaign contributions from the
NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said the organization feels the system for buying firearms is flawed school shooter should never have been able to get a firearm of any kind.
“I’m not just fighting for my kids. I’m fighting for you. And I’m fighting for you,” she told the students.
Some in the crowd yelled at Loesch: “You’re a murderer.”
Student Emma Gonzalez asked Loesch what the NRA’s position was on bump stocks.
When Loesch replied that the NRA is waiting on the Justice Department to make a ruling on bump stocks, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he knew she was standing up for the NRA.