What students who survived the Florida school shooting are saying about gun laws

The teens who lived through the assault at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, are demanding politicians take action.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez reacts during her speech at a rally for gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on February 17. –Rhona Wise / AFP / Getty Images

A week after they were hiding in classrooms from a gunman shooting through the hallways of their school, the students who survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida are headed to the state’s capital to rally for changes to gun laws.

The teens hope their rally in Tallahassee on Wednesday will put pressure on the Republican-controlled legislature.

But the students are demanding more than just action by the Florida legislature.

The students launched the “Never Again” movement over the weekend, planning a march in Washington, D.C., and a network of nationwide solidarity protests to demand action on gun control. As of Tuesday morning, thousands of people had RSVP’d on Facebook to the March for Our Lives event planned for Washington, D.C., while thousands more said they would attend dozens of protests organized around the country — from Boston to Dallas.


On Wednesday night, Stoneman Douglas students will participate with their parents, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Bill Nelson, and Rep. Ted Deutch in a CNN televised town hall on gun control at 9 p.m.

Here’s what the students behind the march and movement have been saying in op-eds and interview-after-interview in the days since they witnessed teachers and classmates gunned down during the school day last week.

Emma Gonzalez

The 18-year-old, whose speech at a Saturday rally calling “BS” on the rhetoric surrounding the gun control debate went viral and captivated the country, has continued to address the National Rifle Association and politicians who receive donations from the organization. On Sunday, Gonzalez urged members of Congress to “get on the right side of this” on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”

On CNN, she spoke directly to the NRA.

“Disband. Dismantle,” she said. “Don’t make another organization under a different name. Don’t you dare come back here. The fact that you were in power for so long and the fact that you had so much influence for so long in America just goes to show how much time and effort we have to spend on fixing our country. And gun control is just the first thing right now that we are mainly focusing on.”


When asked how she expects politicians to refuse donations from the organization, Gonzales said, “if they accept this blood money they are against the children.”

“They are against the people who are dying,” she said. “And there’s no other way to put it at this point. You’re either funding the killers. Or you’re standing with the children. The children who have no money. We don’t have jobs so we can’t pay for your campaign. We would hope that you have the decent morality to support us at this point.”

Cameron Kasky

Two days after the shooting at his school, the 17-year-old junior at Stoneman Douglas wrote an opinion piece for CNN explaining why he and his classmates were demanding action and going to hold politicians accountable.

Appearing on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Kasky said “adults” in Congress have let him and his peers down.

“Adult politicians have been playing around while my generation has been losing our lives,” he said. “If you see how they treat each other with the office, if you see the nasty dirty things going on with them, it’s sad to think that’s what they’re doing while 17 people are being gunned down, slaughtered, only yards away from where we’re sitting now. And March for Our Lives has support from everybody. At the end of the day this isn’t a red and blue thing, this isn’t Democrats or Republicans, this is about everybody and how we are begging for our lives. And we are getting support. But we need to make real change here. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”


During the interview, Kasky addressed arguments for gun rights under the 2nd Amendment saying he and his classmates “don’t want to take guns away from Americans.”

“My father is police officer, he has guns, and I understand that having concealed weapons is good for protecting yourself,” he said. “But an AR-15 is not needed to protect your house from robbers, it’s not needed to hunt bears. An AR-15 is a weapon of war. And a 19-year-old who is mentally challenged and has problems was able to buy an AR-15 easily. We don’t want to disarm America. We want to make America have to work for their weapons, and we have to make sure that everybody who has this kind of power in their hands has been cleared to have it. Because if Nikolas Cruz had gone through five minutes with any medical professional, they would have said, ‘This person does not need an AR-15 — this person needs a counselor.’ And 17 people would not have needed graves.”

Christine Yared

In her op-ed for The New York Times, the freshman at Stoneman Douglas described hiding in a closet during the shooting and the last moments she had with her friend who was killed.

She urged anyone who has “any heart” to advocate for change:

We can’t let innocent people’s deaths be in vain. We need to work together beyond political parties to make sure this never happens again. We need tougher gun laws.

If a person is not old enough to be able to rent a car or buy a beer, then he should not be able to legally purchase a weapon of mass destruction. This could have been prevented. If the killer had been properly treated for his mental illness, maybe this would not have happened. If there were proper background checks, then those who should not have guns would not have them.

We need to vote for those who are for stricter laws and kick out those who won’t take action. We need to expose the truth about gun violence and the corruption around guns. Please.

Brandon Abzug

Abzug, who he spent eight hours lobbying lawmakers in Tallahassee on Monday for stricter gun laws, laid out the three-point plan he has developed on CNN.

“To say that just because we’re young we can’t make a difference is not right,” he said.

Delaney Tarr

The high schooler said Tuesday that pressing for change is also a way for her classmates and her to cope with the tragedy they’ve lived through.

“Ultimately, though our innocence has been taken from us,” Tarr said, “other people’s can still be protected.”

Alex Wind

The teen told CNN he’s “terrified” to go back to school, adding that the very reason why he and his classmates have been able to speak about the issue of gun control is because of the knowledge they gained — feeling safe — at Stoneham Douglas.

This is why we’re doing the movement,” Wind said. “We don’t want to feel unsafe in this school.”

He told reporter Anderson Cooper he wants to see action, and not just talk, from the White House and Congress.

“I want Congress to put a bill out saying, ‘We need stricter background checks, here’s how we’re going to do it,’” the student said. “A 19-year-old who can’t purchase an alcoholic beverage should not be allowed to purchase an AR-15, a weapon of war, a weapon of destruction. It’s absolutely absurd.”

David Hogg

The 17-year-old student, who interviewed his classmates about gun control as they took shelter during the shooting, told “Face the Nation” he wants to see “literally any law from either side” of the political aisle.

“If you’re a Republican that supports mental health care we want you out there making your voice heard, because that’s just as important as gun control or gun safety rules at this point,” Hogg said. “Because Democrats also want gun safety rules and we can’t get in any more debates. We need discussion. We’ve had debates and people have died as a result. Children have died and will continue to if we don’t stop now and look at both sides of this. Because we can’t wait around any longer. Children are dying as a result. And we need to take action. And I call on President Trump and the Republican-controlled House and Senate and executive branch to work together, get some bills passed, and stop taking money from the NRA because children are dying. So is the future of America as a result.”

The teen told CNN he won’t feel comfortable going back to school until “reasonable mental health care legislation and gun control legislation is passed.”

“How many more students are going to have to die and have their blood spilled in American classrooms trying to make the world a better place just because politicians refuse to take action?” he asked.


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