BY BRETT SAMUELS – 02/18/18 09:17 AM EST – THE HILL ~~
Students who survived last week’s shooting at a Florida high school vowed Sunday to hold politicians who accept money from the National Rifle Association (NRA) accountable, and shared plans for a protest march next month.
“My message for people in office is you’re either with us or against us. We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around,” Cameron Kasky, a student who survived the shooting, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“This isn’t about the GOP, this isn’t about the Democrats, this is about us creating a badge of shame for any politicians accepting money from the NRA and using us as collateral,” he added.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, faces 17 counts of premeditated murder after he allegedly opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, killing 17 and wounding several others.
In the days since the attack, students and school officials have called for action to curb gun violence.
Students said Sunday they’re organizing an event called “March for Our Lives,” scheduled to be held March 24. Kasky said that since some argue it isn’t right to talk about gun laws in the aftermath of the shooting, that will be at the forefront during the event next month. Students across the country are invited to march.
Emma Gonzalez delivered an impassioned speech to the crowd, speaking directly to President Donald Trump and other politicians in Washington.
“We will be the last mass shooting,” Gonzalez said before the crowd of people at the rally.
Gonzalez, a senior at the school, was sitting on the floor of the auditorium Wednesday when the shooting that killed at least 17 people and injured numerous others unfolded.
“We need to pay attention to the fact that this isn’t just a mental health issue,” Gonzalez said during the rally. “He wouldn’t have been able to kill that many people with a knife.”
Gonzalez expressed confidence Sunday that students would ultimately be able to effect change.
“We’re going to be facing this with trepidation and determination and we have an incredible support system around us and we are going to be the difference,” she said.
At one point, Gonzalez read Trump’s tweet in response to the shooting about mental health and said she would like to speak to him directly about how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.
The crowd erupted in chants of “Shame on you!” after Gonzalez’s direct message to Trump.
Gonzalez also rallied the crowd with responses of “We call B.S.!” to statements about the NRA and political talking points.
“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez and other students like her have been outspoken in their calls for stricter gun legislation in the wake of Friday’s shooting.
“What we really need is action,” student David Hogg told CNN Thursday. “Because we can say, ‘Yes, we’re going to do these things, thoughts and prayers.’ What we really need more than that is action. We’re children. You guys are, like, the adults. Take action, work together, come over your politics and get something done.”
Numerous others made clear they were finished with flimsy promises of “thoughts and prayers.” Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter Alyssa, was killed in the Parkland shooting, shouted at Trump on CNN to “do something.”
“I just spent the last two hours putting the burial arrangements for my daughter’s funeral, who’s 14,” she said. “President Trump, please do something! Do something! Action! We need it now! These kids need safety now!”