The HyperTexts

"We call BS!"
"Never Again!"
"Enough is Enough!"

The Parkland Florida Shooting Aftermath: Student Activists vs. Republican Inactivists and NRA Blood Money

With Quotes by the Students: Adam Alhanti, Daniel Bishop, Abby Brafman, Ellie Branson, Alfonso Calderon, Sarah Chadwick, Julia Cordover, Jaclyn Corin, Ryan Deitsch, Samantha Fuentes, Alondra Gittelson, Emma Gonzalez, Tyra Hemans, David Hogg, Lauren Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Madison Mirsky, Mackenzie Mirsky, Nikhita Nookala, Carly Novell, Ariana Ortega, Daniela Palacios, Delaney Tarr, Sofie Whitney, Morgan Williams, Alex Wind, Christine Yared and Sam Zeif

The student survivors of the Parkland, Florida massacre are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. They are making their voices heard and taking matters into their own hands. The matter is their lives and the lives of their friends and fellow students. They will march on Washington, in March. On March 24, 2018, to be precise. Are you with them, or against them? Is a phrase in the Bill of Rights worth more than their lives, their futures, their health and their sanity? If gun dealers and gun owners have rights, does that mean schoolchildren have no right but to be shot to ribbons by mass murderers armed with fearsome assault weapons? Or do children have rights as well? It's hard to pursue happiness while staring down the barrel of an AR-15.

If you have the right to drive, do you have the right to drink and drive, go 200 mph, and crush children beneath your wheels? Or should there be reasonable curbs on your driving rights, to protect children in school zones? Are these children crazy to believe they have rights too, or have Trump, the GOP and the NRA descended into madness?

Here is what the children say. Do you believe them, or the politicians who take blood money from the NRA? Who is more believable, more credible?

"... we are begging for our lives ..."
"... the adults let us down ..."
"I don't think I'll ever recover from this."
"We're children. You guys are the adults."
"How many more students are going to have to die and have their blood spilled in American classrooms?"
"We should change the names of AR-15s to 'Marco Rubio' because they are so easy to buy."
" ... our blood is on your hands ..."
"Vote them out!"

"I'd like them [politicians] to know that this can't keep happening ... there's so much wrong with it ... I don't know how I'm ever going to get past this ... I can't even use the bathroom by myself, or take a shower, or sleep by myself any more ... I'm an absolute mess ... I need them to know that, and I need it to stop."

"We will remember!"

The victims' names are Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, Martin Duque Anguiano, 14, Scott Beigel, 35, Nicholas Dworet, 17, Aaron Feis, 37, Jaime Guttenberg, 14, Chris Hixon, 49, Luke Hoyer, 15, Cara Loughran, 14, Gina Montalto, 14, Joaquin Oliver, 17, Alaina Petty, 14, Meadow Pollack, 18, Helena Ramsay, 17, Alex Schachter, 14, Carmen Schentrup, 16, Peter Wang, 15

For those readers who are Christians, what does the Bible say? What would Jesus do?

"Whatsoever ye do unto the least of these, ye do it unto me."
"Whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones ... it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea!"
"Blessed are the peacemakers."
"And a little child shall lead them."

Who would Jesus Christ side with—the children, or money-grubbing, hypocritical politicians and the NRA?      

compiled by Michael R. Burch, an editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry

Related Pages: Parkland Poems

Of Course the Students Don't Stand a Chance against the NRA ...

They're just kids. Naïve. Idealistic dupes manipulated by left-wing, gun-control groups. That's how some critics are describing the Florida school shooting survivors who have emerged in recent days as impassioned gun control advocates. But those who've led and studied movements describe them this way: They're the most formidable foes the NRA will face—and it's because they're so young. After a teenage gunman killed 17 people at their high school in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine's Day, much of the focus has shifted to the young survivors of the shooting. One author who has covered mass shootings for decades says, "I've never seen a phenomenon like these students." Another praised their "disdain for hypocrisy." The student survivors are sympathetic figures, as they should be. They are challenging adults with simple, direct questions:

Do you love us more than your guns?
Why are politicians taking blood money from the NRA?
Why are you voting for them, when they allow us to be slaughtered?
Will you take the time to vote, to protect us?
Are you with us, or against us?

Really, how can they lose, unless we adults fail them again?

Emma Gonzalez Quotes

Get out there and vote. For the love of God, prevent this from happening at your school.
Do we not deserve the Right To Live anymore?
We are tired of being ignored.
Now is the time to get on the right side of this.
He wouldn't have harmed that many students with a knife.
Not today. Never again.
Adults like us when we have strong test scores, but they hate us when we have strong opinions.
Dana Loesch, I want you to know that we will support your two children in the way that you will not.
The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us. These people, who are funded by the NRA, are not going to be allowed to remain in office.
You don’t drive a NASCAR hotrod on the street, no matter how fun it might be, just like you don’t need an AR-15 to protect yourself when walking home at night. No one does.

Signs of the Times: Actual Protest Signs

Your hands. Our blood.
Protect kids, not guns.
Do we love our guns more than our kids?
How many more will it take?
March for our lives.
Shame on you!
Shame on US.
Vote them out!


Change is no longer near. Change is here. (Adam Alhanti)
We are too young to be losing friends like this. (Javier Lovera)
Hey @realDonaldTrump ... My question to you is, are we as America’s youth worth the risk? Is giving teachers guns really the answer? (Lauren Hogg)
We are children. You guys are the adults. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done! (David Hogg)
This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns. (Carly Novell)



The last hashtag, #BoycottNRA, and the larger NRA boycott seem to be working. After the massacre, major corporations quickly broke ranks with the NRA, including Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, National, Alamo, Allied Van Lines, North American Van Lines, TrueCar, United Airlines, Delta, Wyndham, Best Western, First National Bank, MetLife, Chubb, Paramount Rx, Harland Clarke, Symantec, Norton Online, Norton AntiVirus, Life Lock, Personify, Starkey, Teladoc, SimpliSafe, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-Op and Lockton Affinity.

Companies that continue to do business with the NRA and which remain targets of the NRA boycott movement include FedEx, Google, Amazon, Apple, YouTube, Roku, MidwayUSA, Clearant, eHealth, FFL BizHub, Orchid Advisors, Life Insurance Central, Life Line Screening, Medical Concierge Network, Vinesse Wines, HotelPlanner and Bass Pro Shops.

In a major victory for the student activists and all American children, one of the nation’s largest sports retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods, announced that it was immediately ending sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores. Dick's also said that it would no longer sell high-capacity magazines and that it would not sell any gun to anyone under 21 years of age, regardless of local laws. Then, in another YUGE win, Wal-Mart, L. L. Bean, Kroger and Fred Meyer said that they will no longer sell guns or ammo to people under age 21.

Emma Gonzalez now has more Twitter followers than the NRA, in just a few days. Her Twitter account is @emma4change.

Emma Gonzalez

Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, addressed a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, mere days after a gunman entered her school and killed 17 students and staff with an AR-15 assault weapon. The attack occurred on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2018, at one of America's "safest" schools, in one of its "safest" communities.

Addressing a sympathetic and vocal crowd, Emma spoke passionately and eloquently, often pausing to brush back tears. There is a full transcript of her speech below on this page, and it's well worth reading, thinking about, then acting upon. (I found a transcript of the speech on CNN, but it contained a number of errors, so I took the time to listen to the speech several times, correcting the errors. I think my version is more accurate than the original CNN transcript.)

What can we do? One thing we can do is vote for politicians who are ready to enact sane gun control laws immediately, and against those who want to hem, haw, delay and pretend that all the other industrialized nations haven't already solved the problem with strict gun control laws. Such laws really do work, and countries like Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany, France and Japan are proof positive. The problem is not that children can't be saved. The problem is that politicians like Donald Trump, John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio are taking millions of dollars in "blood money" from the NRA. And I mean that "blood" literally. We keep sacrificing our children on the unholy, bloody altars of the NRA, when the cure has already been administered everywhere else in the civilized world. Why? So that Trump can get $30 million from the NRA, win an election, then strut around preening for cameras while children get shot to ribbons? Which is more important: Trump's "brand" or our children's lives? Well that's my solution, voting, for whatever it's worth. Now, back to the students ...

Other student activists—all bright, articulate and informed—include Emma's classmates David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Alex Wind and Jaclyn Corin. They're calling for elected leaders to act without delay. They have quickly come up with attention-grabbing catchphrases and watchwords: "We call BS!" and #NeverAgain. They are organizing on social media, planning marches and voter registration drives, and seem determined to make their voices heard and their presences felt. I have a feeling they will be heard, and I wouldn't put it past them to dethrone some fat-cat lords and perhaps even a certain emperor sans clothes.

Before I share Emma's riveting speech, I would like to contrast her activism with the "inactivism" of the people currently in power, the Republicans. What are they saying? What are they doing, or not doing? And if they're doing nothing, is NRA "blood money" the reason?

The NRA Response: a Timeline of Blood, Lies and Resistance to Protecting Children's Lives

"Crying white mothers are ratings gold!” — harebrained NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, who claimed the media "love mass shootings"

If it bleeds, it leads, doesn’t it?” — Dana Loesch objects to any headline reports about children being shot, calling them "it"

According to Dana Loesch, reports of children being shot to ribbons with assault weapons should not be in the headlines. White mothers crying about the deaths of their children should not be in the headlines either. Who knows where reports of black mothers weeping for their children should go ... on the back pages, presumably. This is how the NRA seems to view massacres of schoolchildren: as far too much liberal ado about very little. What are the lives of children, compared to the rights of adults to buy assault weapons and carry them wherever they please?

If the comments above don't make your skin crawl, God help you. If they do make your skin crawl, please join the students in their marches to get NRA blood money out of American politics.

NRA shill Dana Loesch lied to Emma Gonzalez, to all the survivors of the Parkland massacre, to all the families of the victims, and to the entire nation whenduring a CNN town hall meeting moderated by Jake Tappershe tried to make it seem that she and the NRA are "in favor" of background checks, and have been for "over 20 years."

Bullshit! In reality the NRA has repeatedly opposed background checks and currently has this posted on its website: "NRA opposes expanding firearm background check systems, because background checks don’t stop criminals from getting firearms, because some proposals to do so would deprive individuals of due process of law, and because NRA opposes firearm registration."

Forget the NRA's fake news. This is the real reality timeline of what the NRA has done to help "protect" our children from serial killers with guns:

• In 1871 the National Rifle Association is founded by William Conant Church and George Wood Wingate. The NRA's main purpose initially is to improve marksmanship, not engage in politics. 
• In 1977 during the so-called "Cincinnati Revolt," Harlon Carter and his followers gain control of the NRA. Carter pledges to pursue "a more uncompromising defense of an unqualified individualist interpretation of the Second Amendment."
• In 1981 Republican President Ronald Reagan and his press secretary Jim Brady are shot by John Hinckley Jr., along with two Secret Service officers. Reagan supports the resulting Brady Act. However, the NRA mobilizes and spends millions trying to defeat the bill.  
• In 1984 a gunman, Tyrone Mitchell, used an AR-15 and two shotguns to kill two and wound 12 people at 49th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, before killing himself.
A 1986 law, the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act, explicitly forbids the government from creating a database of gun owners and places restrictions on federal inspections of gun dealers.
• In 1989 Republican President George H.W. Bush signs a ban on the importation of semi-automatic assault weapons after a gunman armed with a Chinese-made assault weapon kills six children at a Stockton, California school.
• In 1993 the Brady Act finally passes, with most Democratic senators voting for the bill, and most Republican senators voting against it. The NRA had fought against the bill, tooth and nail. 
In 1996 the NRA lobbied a Republican-controlled congress into stripping the CDC's funding for gun violence research. The Dickey Amendment, named after its author Jay Dickey, forbids the CDC to spend funds "to advocate or promote gun control."
In 1997 the NRA fails in its attempt to get the entire Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act tossed out. Since 1998, around 1.2 million firearm sales have been blocked by background checks, mostly due to felony convictions. If the NRA had had its way, many felons would have been able to purchase weapons.
By 1998 the NRA's PAC, the Political Victory Fund, is ranked as "one of the biggest spenders in congressional elections." 
In 1999 a Fortune magazine survey said that lawmakers and their staffers considered the NRA to be the most powerful lobbying organization, for a third year in a row.
In 1999 two teenagers shoot and kill 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado, using a semi-automatic handgun and other lethal weapons.
• In 2003, in a major "victory" for the NRA, the Tiahrt Amendment, named after Republican congressman Todd Tiahrt, requires the FBI to destroy background check data for firearms within 24 hours. (Tiahrt won an NRA award for that bit of madness.)
• In 2004, in another major NRA "victory," Congress lets the assault weapons ban expire after the NRA opposes the renewal.
• In 2005 the NRA scores yet another major "victory" when President George W. Bush signs the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, granting the gun industry immunity from lawsuits.
• In 2007 a gunman kills 32 people and wounds 17 on the campus of Virginia Tech, using two semi-automatic weapons in the deadliest shooting incident in U.S. history. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam says in a statement after the shooting.
• In 2007 a gunman, Tyler Peterson, uses an AR-15 to kill six and injure one at an apartment in Crandon, Wis., before killing himself.
• In 2011 Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people are shot near Tucson, Arizona. Six people die. The killer used a semi-automatic Glock pistol with a 33-round magazine. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this senseless tragedy, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and their families during this difficult time,” the NRA says.
• In 2012 a gunman, James Eagan Holmes, kills 12 and injures 58 at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. The primary weapon used was a AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round magazine. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the Aurora, Colorado, community,” the NRA says.
• In 2012 a gunman, Adam Lanza, uses an AR-15-style semi-automatic Bushmaster assault-style rifle to kill 27 Sandy Hook Elementary School students, teachers and his own mother in Newtown, Conneticut. “We were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown,” the NRA says. After President Obama calls to impose new limits on guns and ammunition in the wake of the Newtown shooting, the NRA calls for stationing armed guards at every school in America. Experts say it won't work.
• In 2013 a gunman, John Zawahri, used an AR-15-style .223-caliber rifle and a .44-caliber Remington revolver to kill five and injure three at a home in Santa Monica, Calif., before he was killed.
• In 2013 after meeting with Vice President Biden and others to discuss efforts to curb gun violence, the NRA claims there is an "agenda" to "attack the Second Amendment."
• In 2015 a gunman, Justin Fowler, used an AR-15 to kill one and injure two on a street in Little Water, N.M., before he was killed.
• In 2015 a gunman, Jeffrey Scott Pitts, used an AR-15 and .45-caliber handgun to kill two and injure two at a store in Conyers, Ga., before he was killed.
• In 2015 two gunmen, Syed Rizwyan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, used two AR-15-style, .223-caliber Remington rifles and two 9 mm handguns to kill 14 and injure 21 in San Bernardino, Calif., before they were killed.
In 2016 the NRA raised a record $366 million and spent $412 million for political activities. (The NRA also maintains a PAC which is excluded from these figures.)
In 2016 a gunman, Omar Mateen, used an AR-15 style rifle (a Sig Sauer MCX), and a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol to kill 49 people and injure 50 at the Orlando Pulse nightclub before he was killed.
In 2017 Trump (after the NRA paid a staggering $30 million to help get him elected president) signed a law to revoke an Obama-era gun regulation that made it more difficult for those with mental illnesses to acquire guns. The media wasn’t allowed to attend, to keep it quiet.
In 2017 a gunman, Stephen Paddock, used a stockpile of guns including an AR-15 to kill 58 people and injure hundreds at a music festival in Las Vegas before he killed himself.
In 2017 a gunman, Devin Kelley, used an AR-15 style Ruger rifle to kill 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, before he was killed.
Also in Trump's first year as president, House Republicans passed The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. It would force states with stricter gun laws, such as New York and California, to honor out-of-state permits from states with less restrictive requirements.
In 2017 a gunman, Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15-style rifle to kill at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla, on Valentine's Day.   
Republicans are trying to pass the NRA-sponsored Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (the SHARE Act), which would loosen restrictions on silencers and deregulate sales of armor-piercing bullets.
Around the nation, the NRA has pushed and advanced state bills to allow guns in bars, parks and schools.

Ironically, visitors are not allowed to bring guns into the NRA's headquarters. Talk about hypocrisy! Let the innocent children get shot to ribbons, but protect the adults who imperil their lives! If you don't believe me, try this little test. Grab your AR-15, load it, and try to carry it openly into the NRA's main office building. Or try to carry a loaded AR-15 into a courthouse or legislative plaza—the most public of buildings. The NRA's Wayne LaPierre has preached sermons about the right to bear arms being a sacred, god-given right that can never be infringed. But try to get close to him with a loaded AR-15, and you can bet your bottom dollar that your "sacred" right will be infringed, bigly, YUGELY. Or try getting close to Trump with any weapon, and a sniper will take you out, pronto. If American presidents, senators, congressmen and judges can be protected by infringing on our right to bear arms, then surely we can protect children as well.

The Democratic and Republican Response to the Parkland Massacre

Democrats called for swift and decisive action, led by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who urged his colleagues to act to stem US gun violence, particularly in schools. "This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America," said Murphy, who previously represented the district that included Sandy Hook Elementary School. "This epidemic of mass slaughter—this scourge of school shooting after school shooting—it only happens here, not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction."

Former president Barack Obama said: "We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job. And until we can honestly say that we're doing enough to keep them safe from harm, including long overdue, common-sense gun safety laws that most Americans want, then we have to change."

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, pointed out the real facts: "Gun homicide rates are 25 times higher in the U.S. than in any other high-income country. Every day, seven children and teens die from gun violence. In many states, people are more likely to be killed by a gun than in a car accident. This is not normal. This is not acceptable. This is not inevitable. We must stop pretending that we are powerless to prevent these tragedies." To the students, he said: "We know that your courage will outlast the cruel indifference of the NRA and the cowardice of Congressional leaders who refuse to bring any meaningful legislation to the floor. We know that one day, when you are the adults, we will no longer live in a nation that sees its children murdered and does nothing."

Other prominent Democrats who have called for action on gun control include Gabby Giffords (who was shot and nearly killed herself), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Florida Senator Bill Nelson, California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, California Representative Adam Schiff, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, former president Jimmy Carter, former president Bill Clinton, former vice president Joe Biden, and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, among others.

Republicans, however, are having none of it. Their solution? To pray, to shed a few tears, and do nothing. The right of a child to live is, according to them, nothing compared to the right of an adult to purchase military-grade weapons without restrictions, to carry them anywhere, and to be presumed responsible until it's too late.

Donald Trump offered his "prayers and condolences," posed for photo-ops while inappropriately flashing grins and thumbs-up signs, then puttered off, presumably to play golf or gobble down some Big Macs while watching Fox News. [Please refer to David Hogg's scathing retort to Trump's inaction, in the student's responses below on this page.]

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida pled that lawmakers must acknowledge their power is limited, even though lawmakers in other nations have acted to prevent such massacres. Here is Cameron Kasky's withering reply: "It's not our job to tell you, Senator Rubio, how to protect us. The fact that we even have to do this is appalling. Our job is to go to school, learn and not take a bullet. You need to figure this out. That's why you were unfortunately elected. Your job is to protect us and our blood is on your hands." Another student, Ryan Deitsch, pointed out in an interview that "Rubio danced around the question" of whether he would continue to take money from the NRA. Sarah Chadwick tweeted: "We should change the names of AR-15s to 'Marco Rubio' because they are so easy to buy." After refusing to side with the students on gun control, Rubio's approval rating crashed into negative territory.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for a moment of silence and prayers, but no action. After the Las Vegas massacre in which 58 people died, McConnell said it was "premature" to consider legislative action. Apparently, it is always "premature" to talk seriously about protecting children from obliteration. The students, however, did not think it was “too soon” to bring up the issue of gun control—in fact, several students would start shouting “gun control” within "the very sanctum of the candlelight vigil."

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan's solution? "I think we need to pray, and our hearts go out to these victims." But he advised against action, which according to him would be "knee jerk." Ryan also advised against "jumping to conclusions." But how many years will it take before we can conclude that children are being massacred before our eyes, while we sit on our hands and wait for more evidence? Incredibly, Ryan also said that we should "step back and count our blessings." As we will see, the students who survived do not agree with that statement.

Some of the survivors met with the powerful speaker of the Florida House, Richard Corcoran, a Republican who had agreed to take their questions. Alondra Gittelson, age 16, asked him why individuals were allowed to buy AR-15 rifles. Mr. Corcoran responded that he would not be in favor of banning weapons like the one used in the attack on the students, because they are sometimes used on boar hunts! Later a crowd of students and other people shouted "Shame! Shame! Shame!" outside Corcoran's office door.

Florida Senator Aaron Bean, a Republican, said it was "too early" for him to say if he would vote to do anything different.

Florida Senator Debbie Mayfield, a Republican, rebuffed the student survivors, saying "We can't stop crazies." Amanda De La Cruz, 16, looked distraught. “I want the ban on semiautomatic weapons,” she said. “I don’t care about the crazies.”

Republican Senator Ted Cruz said Democrats were trying to "politicize" the shooting by talking about doing anything, such as enacting stronger gun-control measures.

Republican White House Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "Now is the time to unite as a country," but said nothing about acting to save the lives of children. Unite in apathy and inactivity, apparently.

Republican Vice President Mike Pence also declined to address gun control. So very "Christian" of him! What are children's lives compared to the NRA's coffers? Surely Jesus Christ would concur!

Republican Representative Chris Collins warned that it would be dangerous to even talk about gun control and said that he would start carrying a handgun himself: "The rhetoric has been outrageous—the finger-pointing, just the tone and the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters. Really, then, you know, some people react to things like that. They get angry as well. And then you fuel the fires." As with the Incredible Hulk, we shouldn't make Chris Collins angry. And apparently he gets very angry if anyone suggests that children too have rights and deserve to be protected!

So according to Republicans, the victims are not the slaughtered children, but Trump, the NRA, and gun owners who get angry when anyone suggests that assault weapons are dangerous.

The Students' Tweets and Other Responses

The student activists do not agree with the Republicans in power. Nor or they fooled by Trump, like so many adults ...

"We won't be stopped," Samantha Fuentes told CNN's Jim Sciutto, explaining that Trump showed a distinct lack of empathy when he called her. Samantha, who was shot in both legs and has shrapnel lodged in her head, said she had “never been so unimpressed by a person in my life” after Trump assumed that she was "a big fan" of his, claimed to be "a big fan" of hers, and said "oh boy" a "solid eight times." She concluded: "He didn't make me feel better in the slightest."

Sarah Chadwick, a Douglas High School sophomore, informed Tweety Trump, via his favorite medium, in words that quickly went viral: “I don’t want your condolences you fucking piece of shit, my friends and teachers were shot.” She also said, "Never again should students have to protest for their lives. Never again should an innocent life be taken while trying to gain an education."

Other student survivor tweets:

"My friends were brutally murdered and you [Trump] have the nerve to make this about Russia. I can not believe this!"

"17 of my classmates are gone. That's 17 futures, 17 children, and 17 friends stolen. But you're right, it always has to be about you. How silly of me to forget." #neveragain

"Oh my god. 17 OF MY CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS ARE GONE AND YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MAKE THIS ABOUT RUSSIA???!! HAVE A DAMN HEART. You can keep all of your fake and meaningless 'thoughts and prayers'."

After Tomi Lahren, a Republican pundit, accused "the left" of having an "anti-gun agenda," one of the students tweeted: "it is actually about guns u witch from hell."

On Meet the Press, David Hogg said that he wouldn't feel safe going back to school until mental health and gun control legislation had been passed: "This is not the time for inaction and debate ... How many more students are going to have to die and have their blood spilled in American classrooms?" He also chided Trump: "You're the President, You're supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us. How dare you? Children are dying, and their blood is on your hands because of that. Please take action. Stop going on vacation in Mar-a-Lago. Take action. Work with Congress. Your party controls both the House and Senate. Take action, get some bills passed, and for God's sake, let's save some lives."

Emma Gonzalez issued a direct threat to politicians who prefer NRA money to children's lives: "Well, what we have set up right now ... we have a website, March for Our Lives. We're going to be doing a march in March on Washington where we get students all over the country to join us. These kids are going to make the difference, because the adults let us down. And at this point I don't even know if the adults in power who are funded by the NRA ... I don't even think we need them anymore because they're going to be gone by the midterm elections. There's barely any time for them to save their skins. And if they don't turn around right now and state their open support for this movement, they're going to be left behind. Because you are either with us or against us at this point."

Cameron Kasky agreed, saying: "We are giving a lot of the politicians that we feel neglected by a clean slate, because that's the past and we understand that. But from here on, we are creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA. It's a special interest group that has, most certainly, not our best interests in mind. And this cannot be the norm. This can be changed and it will be changed. And anybody who tells you that it can't, is buying into the facade being created by the people who have our blood on their hands."

Cameron also explained how flawed the current "gun control" laws are, in a nutshell (emphasis on "nut"): "Because if Nikolas Cruz had gone through five minutes with any medical professional they would have said this person does not need an AR-15. This person needs a counselor and 17 people would not have needed graves."

At one point Cameron said "... we are begging for our lives ..."

David Hogg had blistering words for Trump, who tried to shift blame to Democrats: "President Trump you control the House of Representatives. You control the Senate and you control the executive branch. You haven't taken a single bill for mental health care or gun control and passed it. And that's pathetic. We've seen a government shutdown. We've seen tax reform but nothing to save our children's lives. Are you kidding me? You think now is the time to focus on the past and not the future to prevent the deaths of thousands of other children? You sicken me!"

Earlier, David had had made a call for adults to act like adults: "We're children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done."

David also said, "Children will continue to die if we don't take a stand now."

Abby Brafman, a 2017 graduate Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who is now studying at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said: "Inaction is painful. It stabs at our hearts." After the massacre, she had the number 17 tattooed on her neck as a tribute to the 17 people who were gunned down so needlessly. She is now organizing a march in Nashville and said: "We are going to be the school that changes the nation."

Alex Wind had strong words for Marco Rubio and other politicians: "March 24th on the March for our Lives is only the beginning. This is the first march. But I can guarantee it will not be the last. We will be marching for the 17 we lost at our school. We will be marching for everyone we lost at the Newtown Sandy Hook shooting, at Columbine, at Virginia Tech in San Bernardino, Orlando at the Pulse shooting and at Las Vegas. This is only the beginning and March 24th things are going to change."

Madison Mirsky, a ninth grader, when asked what she would say to American politicians, said: "I'd like them to know that this can't keep happening ... there's so much wrong with it ... I don't know how I'm ever going to get past this ... I can't even use the bathroom by myself, or take a shower, or sleep by myself any more ... I'm an absolute mess ... I need them to know that, and I need it to stop."

Mackenzie Mirsky, her twin, when asked the same question, said: "I want them to do something."

Carly Novell said: "I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours ... This IS about guns and about all the people who had their lives abruptly ended by guns."

Morgan Williams tweeted in response to President Trump blaming the FBI for spending too much time on Russia and missing this murderer: “Oh my god. 17 OF MY CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS ARE GONE AND YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MAKE THIS ABOUT RUSSIA???!! HAVE A DAMN HEART. You can keep all of your fake and meaningless ‘thoughts and prayers.’”

Tyra Hemans carried a poster with the word "ENOUGH" and "NO GUNS" to a classmate's funeral.

Tyra said: "I want our politicians to stop thinking about money and start thinking about all these lives we had lost. I want to talk with him [Trump] about changing these laws."

Daniela Palacios, age 16, said: "Wherever you bump into someone, there is the fear that they're the next shooter, and every bell is a gunshot." But "I feel like some change is going to come of this," she went on, her voice barely audible amid the roar of the crowd. "I feel hopeful."

Ellie Branson, 16, asked: "Can you include the names of the victims? Their names are more important than mine."

Delaney Tarr, a senior, said: "We've spoke to only a few legislators and ... the most we've gotten out of them is, 'We'll keep you in our thoughts. You are so strong. You are so powerful.' We know what we want. We want gun reform. We want commonsense gun laws. ... We want change. We've had enough of thoughts and prayers. If you supported us, you would have made a change long ago. So this is to every lawmaker out there: No longer can you take money from the NRA. We are coming after you. We are coming after every single one of you, demanding that you take action, demanding that you make a change."

Sam Zeif pointed out that the purpose of the Second Amendment was safety, but no one needs a weapon of mayhem like the AR-15 for defense, then asked: "When will it end?"

Julia Cordover said: "We will be famous for this moment of change."

Ariana Ortega, at the funeral of her friend Alexander Schatcher, said: “We’re here to make change. We don’t want another community going through this.”

Christine Yared had an op-ed column in the New York Times with the headline “Don’t Let My Classmates’ Deaths Be in Vain.”

"I don't think I'll ever recover from this," said Daniel Bishop, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. "How am I supposed to (go back to) a place where 17 of my peers were slaughtered?"

Nikhita Nookala, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and a staff writer on the Eagle Eye newspaper, wrote: "Let’s get something passed. The status quo cannot continue to be acceptable, in schools like mine or on Capitol Hill."

Sofie Whitney said, "People say we aren't serious because we're children, but have you heard my friends talk? We're serious."

Rebecca Bogart, Josef Bagiv and Ashton Boukzam had been together in a class on the Holocaust when the shooter started his attack. The students had run together with their teacher and several others to hide behind the teacher’s desk, where they hid holding hands. As Nikolas Cruz passed by, spraying bullets through the door, two students, Nicholas Dworet and Helena Ramsay, were killed. One of the students' rallying cries would be "Never again!" That's what we say about the Holocaust.

“Seventeen lives are more important than gun rights,” said Christopher Lormeus, 18, who had walked from Coconut Creek High School, six miles away.

Outside the Florida statehouse building, a crowd of students and their supporters burst into chants of "Vote them out!" as speakers called for the removal of Republican lawmakers who refuse to address gun control issues. One sign read, "Remember the men who value the NRA over children's lives" and then listed Republicans in Florida's congressional delegation. Other signs said, "Kill the NRA, not our kids" and "These kids are braver than the GOP."

In conclusion, students and Democrats agree that it is past time to act. Republicans, however, show no interest in doing anything meaningful to save children's lives. Doesn't that seem odd? Could this be the reason why? ...

Tears, Prayers and NRA Blood Money

Prominent Republicans seem to have a "battle plan" that does not involve fighting to save children's lives. Rather, they offer tears and prayers, while taking millions of dollars from the National Rifle Association. This despite the fact that, according to the Washington Post, a staggering 150,000 students have experienced gun violence since Columbine. Here is what Republicans had to offer students, and what they have received from the NRA ...

Donald Trump: "... prayers and condolences ..." (NRA $30 million)
Sen. John McCain: "Cindy & I are praying for the victims of the terrible #LasVegasShooting & their families." (NRA $7.7 million)
Marco Rubio: "Today is that terrible day you pray never comes." (NRA $3.3 million)
Cory Gardner: "I am heartbroken for the students." (NRA $3.9 million)
Rob Portman: " Heartbreaking news out of Florida. Jane and I send our prayers." (NRA $3.0 million)
Bill Cassidy: "Praying for the students, teachers and first responders." (NRA $2.8 million)
Thom Tillis: "Tragic news out of Florida. Please keep the victims … in your thoughts and prayers." (NRA $4.4 million)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "This is a moment for national mourning and for prayer." (NRA $1.3 million)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa): "My prayers are with all of the victims in Las Vegas and their loved ones affected by this senseless act of violence." (NRA $3.1 million)

Do we detect a trend, perhaps?

The NRA Response

No modern American president has had a closer bond with gun owners than Trump, who won 62% of their votes in the presidential election, then promised the NRA that he would "never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms."

"That's very encouraging, that he's not mounting up with the anti-Second Amendment posse," said Larry Pratt, executive director emeritus of the Gun Owners of America. "The response from gun owners will be principally that he didn't say the kind of things Hillary Clinton would have said had she been president and the way Barack Obama reacted to other situations like this."

"The fact that the president didn't talk about rifles ... that was good," said Chris Waltz, president and CEO of AR-15 Gun Owners of America. "He's been, so far, the most outspoken president on gun issues, as far as supporting the Second Amendment."

"I'm confident that the president meant what he said: that he's not going to pursue a potential solution that's going to infringe on our constitutional rights," said David Bozell, president of the conservative group For America.

"We're always concerned after a tragedy that the response will be either poor, misguided or just emotional," said Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights. In particular, he said he was discomfited by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's response to a question from Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Thursday. "I will say personally, I think the gun violence—it's a tragedy what we've seen yesterday, and I'd urge Congress to look at these issues," Mnuchin said. While Mnuchin didn't back any particular action, the words struck Brown as "intimating gun control" and a potential waver in the administration's stance. "Our concern is the canary in the coal mine," he said.

Heaven forbid that anyone should get too "emotional" about children being massacred! Or that we should even express concerns! Never mind about the rights of children not to be shot to ribbons! What really matters is the Second Amendment, and the rights of gun dealers!

Donald Trump Jr. liked and retweeted an attack on one of the students, David Hogg, because his father is an FBI agent.

Other Responses

George and Alma Clooney pledged half a million dollars to the student's cause. Hours later, film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and wife Marilyn said they would donate the same amount, calling the students “brave young leaders” who have “taken their pain and grief and turned it into action.” Steven Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw soon did the same. Oprah Winfrey matched their contributions, tweeting: "These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard." Gucci later pledged another half million dollars to the cause. Other celebreties including Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Amy Schumer and Cher have also voiced their support. Cher said she believed the movement could scare Congress into action, tweeting: “KIDS CAN BE CATALYSTS 4 CHANGE.” Shutterfly contributed $50,000 on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

Speaking on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert said that the one group that gave him hope that "we can protect the children" in the wake of the tragedy was the children themselves. Citing inaction on gun control from legislators, Colbert said with a straight face, "I think we need to change the voting age. Until we do something about guns, you can't vote if you're over 18." Noting that students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school had been present at the Florida State House on Tuesday, Colbert added, "I hope these kids don't give up. Because this is their lives and their future. Someone else may be in power, but this country belongs to them. And there is reason for hope." Citing the "Me Too" movement and how it brought down men in power, Colbert added, "This is an election year. If you want to see change you have to go to the polls and tell the people who will not protect you that their time is up." Later in the show, Colbert sat down with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and asked why a reform hasn’t been put in place regarding gun control. “This is unfathomable how many deaths we’ve had to see over and over and over again and Congress has done nothing,” Gillibrand began explaining. “The silence is literally deafening and they don’t get anything done because the NRA has a chokehold on Congress. The NRA is concerned only with gun sales. It’s all about money. It’s all about greed. It has nothing to do with the second amendment. And we’ve seen death after death after death and it has to stop.”

Trevor Noah called the students, approvingly, "meddling kids." It is past time for them to meddle in trying to save their lives and the lives of their fellow students.

Other Things to Consider

The NRA Twitter account "liked" a Valentine's Day image professing love for assault rifles. The image was posted by a firearms company around 30 minutes before the Florida shooting started.

One Florida social media user issued a warning for other schools, pointing out that Parkland is one of the wealthiest and safest cities in the state: "If schools in Parkland aren't safe, no school is safe." Some of the students who survived pointed out that their school was one of the best-prepared and most-drilled for such an event. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High has fences, gates and emergency procedures designed to keep students safe. It also has a School Resource Officer, a Broward Sheriff’s deputy. But all the security measures and drills failed to protect 17 people from being killed by a lone wolf armed with military-grade weapons.

We call BS!
by Emma Gonzalez

They haven't already had a moment of silence in the House of Representatives, so I would like to have another one ...

Thank you.

Every single person up here today, all these people should be at home grieving. But instead we are up here, standing together because if all our government and President can do is send "thoughts and prayers," then it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see. [Gandhi said we must become the change we want to see in the world.]

Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but the laws have not.

We certainly do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. In Florida, to buy a gun you do not need a permit, you do not need a gun license, and once you buy it you do not need to register it. You do not need a permit to carry a concealed rifle or shotgun. You can buy as many guns as you want at one time.

I read something very powerful to me today. It was from the point of view of a teacher. And I quote: "When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun, all I can hear is: "My right to own a gun outweighs your students' right to live. All I can hear is mine, mine, mine, mine."

Instead of worrying about our AP Gov chapter 16 test, we have to be studying our notes to make sure that our arguments based on politics and political history are watertight. The students at this school have been having debates on guns for what feels like our entire lives. AP Gov had about three debates this year. Some discussions on the subject even occurred during the shooting, while students were hiding in the closets. The people involved right now, those who were there, those posting, those tweeting, those doing interviews and talking to people, are being listened to for what feels like the very first time about this topic that has come up over 1,000 times in the past four years alone.

I found out today there's a website called Nothing in the title suggests that it is exclusively tracking the USA's shootings, and yet ... does it need to address that? Because Australia had one mass shooting in 1999 in the Port Arthur massacre, introduced gun safety, and it hasn't had one since. Japan has never had a mass shooting. Canada has had three and the UK had one and they both introduced gun control; and yet here we are, with websites dedicated to reporting these tragedies so that they can be formulated into statistics for your convenience.

I watched an interview this morning and noticed that one of the questions was: "Do you think your children will have to go through other school shooter drills?" And our response is that our neighbors will not have to go through other school shooter drills. When we have had our say with the government—and maybe the adults have gotten used to saying "it is what it is"—but if us students have learned anything, it's that if you don't study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it's time to start doing something!

We are going to be the kids that you read about in textbooks. Not because we're going to be another statistic about mass shootings in America, but because, just as [fellow student] David [Hogg] said, we are going to be the last mass shooting.

Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law. That's going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook, and it's all going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and, most importantly, the students.

The students who are dead, the students still in the hospital, the students who are now suffering from PTSD, the students who had panic attacks during the vigil because the helicopters would not leave us alone, hovering over the school for 24 hours a day.

There is one tweet I would like to call attention to: "So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again." [Referring to Trump's tweet.]

We did, time and time again. Since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone who knew him, to hear that he was the shooter. Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn't know this kid! OK, we did. We know that they are claiming that there are mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this isn't just a mental health issue. He wouldn't have harmed that many students with a knife!

And how about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter's fault, the fault of the people who let him buy the guns in the first place, those at the gun shows, the people who encouraged him to buy accessories for his guns to make them fully automatic, the people who didn't take them away from him when they knew that he expressed homicidal tendencies—and I am not talking about the FBI. I'm talking about the people that he lived with. I'm talking about the neighbors who saw him outside holding guns.

If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, [sarcastically] I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.

You want to know something? It doesn't matter, because I already know! Thirty million dollars! And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one-and-one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump?

If you don't do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you!

To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.

[The crowd repeatedly chants, "Shame on you!"]

If your money was as threatened as us, would your first thought be: "How is this going to reflect on my campaign? Which should I choose?" Or would you choose us, and if you answered us, will you act like it for once? You know what would be a good way to act like it? I have an example of how to not act like it. In February of 2017, one year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses.

[The crowd boos.]

From the interactions that I had had with the shooter before the shooting and the information that I currently know about him, I don't really know if he was mentally ill. I wrote this before I heard what Delaney said. Delaney said that he was diagnosed. I don't need a psychologist and I don't need to be a psychologist to know that repealing that regulation was a really dumb idea.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was the sole sponsor on this bill that stops the FBI from performing background checks on people adjudicated to be mentally ill, and now he's stating for the record [sarcastically], "Well, it's a shame that the FBI isn't doing background checks on these mentally ill people." Well, duh! You took that opportunity away last year!

The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice, and our parents, to call BS. Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn't reach the ears of the nation? We are prepared to call BS.

Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA, telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS!

They say that tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS!

They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS!

They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS!

They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS!

That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call BS!

If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congress people. Give them a piece of your mind!

[The crowd chants, "Throw them out!"]

What Can We Do?

The single most important thing we can do, in my opinion, is to vote in EVERY election, whether national, state or local. The Republican Party has made it abundantly clear that its fealty is to the NRA. Republicans are willing to let children die on the unholy, bloody altars of the NRA. If voters start kicking Republicans out of office at every level, the party will be forced to regain its lost marbles, or Democrats will soon have the numbers to implement sane gun control laws.

We can also support the student activists with our money, time and cheers. They are very impressive—bright, articulate, passionate, courageous and determined—and who knows what they can do with our help? Let's give them every chance to succeed.

And we can write letters to the editors of newspapers, call our government representatives, make our voices heard online, and let everyone know that we are not willing to let children die over a phrase in the Bill of Rights, or for the sake of gun dealers' profits.

What we cannot do is be apathetic and do nothing, when children's lives are at stake.

Related Pages: Parkland Poems

The HyperTexts