Student voices lead calls for gun control

Survivors at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School speaking out

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The outcry over gun violence in schools after a gunman with an AR-15 went on a shooting rampage in Broward County has been led by students who attend Stoneman Douglas High School, where 15 teenagers and two teachers died and 14 other people were injured last Wednesday.

The survivors are finding their voices are becoming the faces for demanding change.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported that busloads of those students will travel to Tallahassee on Wednesday to attend a rally organized by Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, the League of Women Voters, the Florida PTA, Equality Florida, the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus and other organizations. They also hope to meet with lawmakers.

The Stoneman Douglas students held a rally last weekend to demand answers and call for change, calling out state and national lawmakers and the National Rifle Association

"We keep telling them if they accept this blood money, they are against the children. They are against the people who are dying," senior Emma Gonzalez said. "There’s no other way to put it at this point. You are either funding the killers or you are standing with the children."

Students said this massacre was preventable and something has to be been done.

"There are people in charge of us who care more about the NRA than they do us," junior Cameron Kasley said. "The shooter was able to legally purchase a gun and he was a mentally troubled 19-year-old. And if he had been through just the least bit of screening, this could have not happened.

Other Stoneman Douglas students told News4Jax the same thing.

"I definitely think there should be more gun laws," Kristalin Diaz said. "I don’t think there should be a way that he was able to get that kind of gun. It just doesn’t make sense to me."

Some of the students knew the accused shooter, Nikolas Cruz, claiming he was always a threat. He boasted about an arsenal of weapons on social media and had been expelled from the school. News4Jax found video that appeared to show Cruz in a school fight in 2016.

"I really feel like there was warnings," senior Austin Lazar said. "I mean, the kid brought knives to school, got expelled. The school should’ve known. Even the teachers in middle school, back all the way (in) middle school, you knew the kid was just psycho. You knew it. It’s not the students' fault, it’s everyone’s fault. It really is."

These students are encouraging others to vote out the lawmakers who don't push for change. They’re also planning a March for Our Lives in Washington on March 24 and a school walkout on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 13 people dead.

President Donald Trump said he will have a "listening session" in Broward County on Wednesday night to hear concerns, but it wasn't yet clear who would be invited to speak.

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