WASHINGTON: Students who survived a mass shooting at their Florida school on Sunday announced plans to march on Washington in a bid to “shame” politicians into reforming laws that make firearms readily available.
The “March for Our Lives” will take place on March 24, with sister rallies planned across the country, a group of students told US media’ “This Week.”
They pledged to make Wednesday’s slaughter in Parkland, Florida a turning point in America’s deadlocked debate on gun control.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, a troubled former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, confessed to killing 17 people with a legally-purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the latest such atrocity in a country with more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually.
She vowed Stoneman Douglas would be “the last mass shooting.”
On Sunday, Gonzalez, 18, urged politicians to join a conversation about gun control — citing Trump as well as his fellow Republicans Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott.
“We want to give them the opportunity to be on the right side of this,” she said, as she and her four classmates called on students nationwide to help push the message.
Trump will host a “listening session” with high school students and teachers on Wednesday, the White House said in a statement, though it did not specify who would attend the event.
Singling out the links between politicians and the powerful National Rifle Association, Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky said any politician “who is taking money from the NRA is responsible for events like this.”
“This isn’t about the GOP,” he said, referring to the Republican Party. “This isn’t about the Democrats.”
The NRA, a traditional ally of the Republicans who currently control Congress and the White House, defends a literal view of the US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment which promises a right “to keep and bear arms.”
Even after last October’s killing of 58 people by a gunman in Las Vegas who amassed 47 firearms to commit the worst mass shooting in recent US history, legislators accomplished nothing in the way of tighter controls.
Accusing the NRA of “fostering and promoting this gun culture,” Kasky said the students seek “a new normal where there’s a badge of shame on any politician who’s accepting money from the NRA.”
“People keep asking us, what about the Stoneman Douglas shooting is going to be different, because this has happened before and change hasn’t come?” said Kasky.
“This is it,” he continued. “We are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives.”
The students did not indicate how many people they expected to join their rallies.
But their aims won support from Florida Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch, who said they can make a difference.
“After what they saw, the worst things imaginable, they’re not going to just sit back and take it,” he told “This Week.”
“All I’ve heard all week is how frustrated people are with rhetoric. They want action.”