Thursday 24 May 2018

Survivors of Florida’s deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

The White House said the president would hold a “listening session” with students on Wednesday.

Daniel Bishop, 16, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, cries at a makeshift memorial outside the school (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Daniel Bishop, 16, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, cries at a makeshift memorial outside the school (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

By Jason Dearen, Terry Spencer and Allen G Breed, Associated Press

Student survivors of the deadly Florida school shooting who hope to become the face of a revived gun control movement are on a potential collision course with US president Donald Trump.

Several of the students have criticised the president, whose election was strongly supported by the National Rifle Association and who ran on a platform opposing gun control.

Mr Trump spent the weekend at his estate in South Florida, only an hour’s drive from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were fatally shot last week.

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People taking part in the Never Again Movement hold signs at an junction near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

His only mentions of the massacre came in tweets on Saturday contending that the FBI was too focused on the Russia investigation to respond to warnings about the alleged shooter and mocking Democrats for failing to pass gun control.

“You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us,” said David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at the Florida school, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press.

After more than a day of criticism from the students, the White House said the president would hold a “listening session” with unspecified students on Wednesday and meet on Thursday with state and local security officials.

Florida politicians, meanwhile, scrambled to produce legislation in response to the February 14 attack.

Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, is being held without bail in the Broward County Jail, accused of 17 counts of first-degree murder.

In a TV interview, Republican Senator Marco Rubio embraced a Democratic bill in the Florida legislature to allow courts to temporarily prevent people from having guns if they are determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

Governor Rick Scott, also a Republican, attended a prayer vigil at the First Church Coral Springs, blocks from the shooting site. He is expected to announce a legislative package with GOP politicians this week.

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Hadley Sorensen, 16, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is comforted by her mother Stacy Sorensen (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Emma Gonzalez, another student survivor, gave an impassioned speech at a weekend rally with a stinging citation of the NRA’s 30 million US dollars (£21 million) in expenditures on Mr Trump’s behalf in the presidential election.

On Sunday she cited Mr Trump, Mr Rubio and Mr Scott by name in a warning to politicians backed by the NRA.

“Now is the time to get on the right side of this, because this is not something that we are going to let sweep under the carpet,” she said on Meet the Press.

Seeking to increase pressure for gun control, the students plan to visit the state capitol in Tallahassee this week to demand immediate action. They are also calling for anti-gun violence demonstrations in Washington and other cities on March 24.

Organisers behind the Women’s March, an anti-Trump and female empowerment protest, called for a 17-minute, nationwide walkout by teachers and students on March 14.

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People light candles at a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Not every student at the Florida school was calling for more gun control. James Ciaramello was heartbroken by the massacre but sceptical firearms regulations could have prevented it.

“He’s just messed up,” he said. “I mean, tighter gun control, it’s not gonna help. There’s always a way around it.”

Press Association

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