Saying 'no more,' Stoneman Douglas survivors urge gun control

Hundreds rally in Fort Lauderdale for more restrictions on firearms

By Tim Swift - Digital Editor

PARKLAND, Fla. - As the national news media descended on Parkland, students shared their horrific stories of survival after Wednesday's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but increasingly they are turning to another message: Something needs to change.

Many survivors of mass shootings have gone on to become staunch gun control advocates months and years later in Parkland, the timeline has seemingly accelerated. In the days after the shooting, students have been active on social media and cable news channels, saying now is the time to talk about changing gun laws.

Senior David Hogg has appeared on cable news multiple times since the shooting, urging lawmakers to act and calling the shooting "unacceptable."

He and hundreds of others rallied at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale Saturday, calling for more legislation to regulate guns.

"Vote them out!" and protesters chanted repeatedly, referring to lawmakers who oppose restrictions on guns.

“People keep asking me, What about this (shooting) will be different?” junior Cameron Kasky said at the rally. “All of you are proof that this could be different.”

Wiping away tears, student Emma Gonzalez gave an impassioned speech, taking aim at President Donald Trump and other politicians who take money from the National Rifle Association.

"To every politician who is taking money from the NRA: Shame on you," Gonzlez said. "If you actively to do nothing, people will continue to end up dead. So it’s time start doing something." 

Multiple speakers urged banning weapons like the A5-15 rifle that was used in the shooting.

"No one should own an AR-15, especially an 18-year-old," said Stoneman Douglas teacher Melissa Falkowski, referring to gunman Nikolas Cruz.

On Saturday morning in Parkland, protesters lined the road to the school, which is still an active crime scene, with signs reading anti-gun messages such as "broken system."

“After every shooting, the NRA sends a memo saying ‘send your thoughts and prayers.’ This is the only country where this kind of thing happens," Kasky told CNN earlier this week. "This is the time to talk about guns.”

“But there’s much more that can be done, much more that needs to be done and much more that people like Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott are not doing," he said. "It’s scary to think these are the people who are making our laws when our community just took 17 bullets to the heart. It feels like the only people who don’t care are the people making the laws.”

At a vigil for the victims, a crowd of more than 1,000 people, consisting largely of students, chanted “No more guns, no more guns.”

Students elsewhere have started joining the chorus from Parkland. On Friday, about 100 students from South Broward High School walked out of school to protest gun violence, carrying signs that said “Do Something” and “Protect our Kids, Not Your Guns.”

“We are angry! We are angry!” the students cried. “We want safety! We want safety!”

Students are also planning a nationwide walkout next week to protest school shootings.

Organizers on Twitter said they would release more information about the protest on Monday.

On Wednesday night, conservative commentator Tomi Lahren took to Twitter, saying it was too early to talk about gun control. 

"Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gun owner agenda? My goodness. This isn't about a gun it's about another lunatic," she wrote.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Caryl Novell quickly responded.

"I was hiding in a closet for two hours. It was about guns. You weren't there, you don't know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings," Novell said. "This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns."

Her message to Lahren has been retweeted more than 300,000 times.

Copyright 2018 by WPLG The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.