Florida residents and students on Saturday gathered in Parkland demanding that the American government enact gun legislation to protect innocent Americans.
The protest comes after a spate of recent mass shootings, including a carnage at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas last month, which left nineteen children and two teachers dead. Another shooting occurred in Buffalo, New York, with the gunman claiming the lives of ten people in a racist attack.
Florida Parkland lived through the deadliest high school shooting four years ago. On February 14th of 2018, Valentine’s day, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire on students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 people and injuring 17 others.
Cruz was a former student of the school, and the Police and neighbours knew of his disciplinary issues and abnormal behaviour. He was expelled from the school for fighting but Cruz was still able to purchase an AR-15 legally at the age of eighteen.
“We are broken and we’re always going to be broken. We deserve better, our children deserve better. We can’t stop and lawmakers have to do something. I don’t feel that we are that divided. I know that there’s common ground,” said Fran Sullivan, a teacher in Parkland.
The demonstration also came on the heels of another deadly weekend riddled with gun violence. At least seventeen people were killed, and 62 others injured in eleven mass shootings across the United States over the past weekend.
“I never thought I would be here again at this time since we went to Washington with those kids and marched. I thought it would be over, but it just keeps happening. There were eleven mass shootings this past weekend. You know what we think we need to do? hold those Senators that will not vote for these gun laws responsible,” said Susan Rioux, counseling coordinator in Parkland.
Following the shooting, students from Parkland founded Never Again MSD, an advocacy group that lobbies for gun control. They managed to convince a Republican administration and legislature to change the laws here in Florida.
In March of 2018, then Governor Rick Scott signed a bill implementing new restrictions, including raising the age to own a gun to 21 and implemented a three-day waiting period to purchase most rifles.
“It’s upsetting that we have to do these four years later and almost ten years after Sandy Hook. So, I’m frustrated and upset but I’m hoping that this time it will be different and that the senators will vote on gun prevention next week,” said Sari Kaufman.
The United States has suffered 247 mass shootings over the past five months or so, with more than 18,700 lives lost to gun violence, according to the latest data from Gun Violence Archive. Activists around the country are hoping that lawmakers in Washington finally enact a similar federal law.
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