Calls for anti-gun violence demonstrations in Washington and other cities on March 24
Florida school shooting survivors lash out at Trump response
Pupils who escaped the deadly school shooting in Florida focused their anger on Sunday at US President Donald Trump, saying that his response to the attack has been needlessly divisive.
“You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us,” said David Hogg, a 17-year-old pupil at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press.
“How dare you,” he said.
Mr Hogg was responding to the president’s tweet on Saturday that Democrats hadn't passed any gun control measures during the brief time they controlled Congress with a supermajority in the Senate. The president also alluded to the FBI's failure to act on tips that the suspect was dangerous, while bemoaning what he claimed was the bureau's focus on Russia's role in the 2016 election.
Mr Trump was at his Florida estate on Sunday but did not mention the attack in a series of tweets. After more than a day of criticism from the pupils, the White House said the president would hold a “listening session” with unspecified pupils on Wednesday and meet state and local security officials on Thursday.
Emma Gonzalez, another pupil who survived the attack, cited the president, Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio and the state’s governor, Rick Scott, by name in a warning to politicians who are supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“Now is the time to get on the right side of this, because this is not something that we are going to let sweep under the carpet,” she said on Meet the Press.
The pupils’ pointed comments are the latest signs of increased pressure for gun control after the massacre.
They have vowed to become the face of a movement for tighter firearm regulations, and plan to visit the state capitol in Tallahassee this week to demand immediate action. They are also calling for anti-gun violence demonstrations in Washington and other cities on March 24.
Organisers behind the Women’s March, an anti-Trump and female empowerment protest, called for a 17-minute, nationwide walkout by teachers and pupils on March 14. The Network for Public Education, an advocacy group for public schools, announced a day of walk-outs, sit-ins and other events on school campuses in April on the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 12 pupils and one teacher dead.
Not every pupil at the Florida school was calling for more gun control. James Ciaramello, a senior in the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programme, said Cruz was one of his cadets. On Friday, he paused at a memorial in a park in front of a photo of one victim, 15-year-old Peter Wang, another JROTC pupil who was killed after holding open a door so others could escape.
“He’s just messed up,” Mr Ciaramello said of Cruz. “I mean, tighter gun control, it’s not gonna help. There’s always a way around it.”