“The steps of the Florida State Capitol building were crowded with thousands of students, teachers, parents, and advocates on Wednesday as survivors of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School led a rally to demand gun control reforms including a ban on military-style firearms,” Common Dreams said on February 21.
About 3000 people attended the rally, with Common Dreams reporting that many students travelled more than 700 kilometres from Parkland, Florida, where Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and injured 14.
At the same time, students in towns across Florida and in other states including Iowa and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, DC, also staged walkouts in solidarity.
The protests came ahead of plans by teachers’ unions and the organisers of last year’s giant Women’s March for a walk out from schools all over the United States on March 14 to demand action on gun control, Morning Star Online said on February 22. Marjory Stoneman Douglas pupils are also planning a March for Our Lives on March 24 to push for action.
Common Dreams said on February 19 that plans were also underway for a national high school walk out on April 20 — the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.
The April 20 protests were initiated by a 15-year-old student from Ridgefield, Connecticut, and has gained support across the country. A Change.org petition calling for the nationwide walk out had been signed by almost 130,000 people by February 21.
At the Florida Capitol Building protest, the crowd chanted “Never again!” and “Shame on you!”, Common Dreams said the crowd directed their anger at Florida lawmakers who, on February 20, voted against a motion to consider a military-style firearm ban for guns like the AR-15 that was used in Parkland, as well as a number of other mass shootings in recent years.
“To shoot down a bill like that is absolutely abhorrent, to not even give it a chance to be discussed,” said Delaney Tarr, one of the Parkland survivors, who spoke at the rally. “That disgusts me and it disgusts my peers, because we know what we’ve been through and we know that this needs to be changed...
“To every lawmaker out there: you can no longer take money from the NRA ... We are coming after every single one of you and demanding that you take action, demanding that you make a change.”