ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – On the heels of Wednesday’s mass shooting at a South Florida high school that took the lives of 17 adults and children, people across the country -- from those who hid in classrooms with the dying to those who never knew them -- are demanding change.
Dozens of people showed up Monday to Davenport Park in St. Augustine to make their voices heard, not in a politically driven protest but in a community uniting moment.
Molly Shields, a mother of four, organized the “Enough is Enough” gathering, where adults wrote letters to legislators and children and families penned cards of sympathy to the victims of the massacre in Parkland.
“I’m disgusted at this point,” Shields said. “I’ve gone beyond being sad. Now, I’m just angry.”
Shields said she couldn’t sleep the night after the school shooting. Her teenage daughter couldn’t either. So they decided to take action.
“I think we have become complacent in hearing about tragic events and then they kind of dwindle off, and they happen again, so we need to contact our legislators until change occurs,” Shields said.
She said she doesn’t care what works, she just wants to see a solution.
“If you’re pro-gun, but if you consider it a mental health issue, speak up. What are you proposing the change be? If you’re anti-gun and you also think it’s a mental health issue, what are you doing?” Shields asked. “I think people are pointing the fingers, expressing opinions, but they’re not backed up with enough action. We need action.”
Roy Brown, who attended Monday's event, said he feels the same frustration and showed up to write to his legislators for change.
“(There's) more talk, more 'thoughts and prayers' and nothing is done. It just goes on and on,” Brown said. “These kids (in the Parkland shooting) aren’t old enough to vote, so I figured the least I could do is I can vote, and I can speak for the kids.”
Children, like 12-year-old Emily Albright, wrote cards for the shooting victims’ families to let them know they are hurting with them.
“To the students of Stoneman Douglas High School: I am sorry for what has happened to your school. It is devastating,” Emily wrote. “You have the support of the city of St. Augustine. We are sorry for your loss.”
Even at 12 years old, Emily has a lot to say about the Parkland shooting.
“It's kind of scary. When you’re in school, you think that that happened there, so could it happen anywhere?” Emily said, adding that people as young as accused Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz shouldn't have access to the type of guns used in the massacre.
No matter what take a citizen has on gun control or mental health, Shields and other attendees encourage everyone to write letters to legislators, because something must change.
If you’ve never written a legislator before, you can find advice on how to write an effective letter at http://www.nea.org/home/19657.htm.
To learn how to get in touch with the lawmakers who represent your community, click here.