The Parkland Valentine’s Day massacre, which saw 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz walk into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle and kill 17 people, has brought renewed attention surrounding gun reform.
It has always remained a touchy topic in American politics, with some lawmakers slightly reluctant to discuss gun reform for fear of losing out on funding from pro-gun groups, including the National Rifle Association. The NRA was a fundamental supporter of President Trump’s campaign and continues to pour millions of dollars into the campaigns of pro-gun lawmakers. In return, Trump promised the NRA unconditional support, even in the face of an increasing consensus on the need to regulate gun sales.
But the recent spate of mass shootings has prompted protests around the country, with protesters urging lawmakers to act on gun reform. After the Parkland shooting, teenagers who have been on the receiving end of school mass shootings came together to register their voices against the alleged indifference of lawmakers. It reached a culmination on Saturday when survivors of the Parkland shooting — mostly students — took it in their hands to kick-start the debate surrounding gun violence with renewed vigor.
The families of victims, survivors, and gun reform advocates assembled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as part of the Rally to Support Firearm Safety Legislation, with speakers arguing that shootings such as the Parkland massacre would never happen if America’s leaders began thinking about the welfare of children.
As NBC reported, emotions ran high on this austere day, with young students taking to the podium to pour their heart out — flitting between rage and despair.
The most memorable moment of the gun reform protests came when Emma Gonzales, a student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas who managed to escape death by hiding on the second floor of her secondary school’s auditorium during the attack, called out the president, the NRA, and lawmakers who seem slow to act on gun reform during her impassioned speech.
“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and… how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.
“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA – shame on you!”
Gonzales did not mince words while attacking President Trump, who appeared to deflect the blame on FBI and Democrats for the Parkland tragedy. The FBI had previously confessed that they failed to act on a tip about Nikolas Cruz, but the president used it as an opportunity to berate the agency, saying the Parkland shooting could have been prevented if the FBI was spending less time on the Russia investigation.