Teens walk out of school: ‘We call BS’
STUDENT survivors of the horrifying Florida high school massacre have channelled their pain into political activism.
The group of Parkland teens has announced a demonstration in Washington DC for March 24 called "March For Our Lives".
The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS are determined to ensure that the massacre of 17 students, educators and staff in their high school is the last.
"Please stop allowing us to be gunned down in our hallways," Emma Gonzalez, a high school senior, told Fox News Sunday.
"They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS!" she told a crowd at a rally.
"They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS!"
The teens are calling on other students from around the country to demand action from politicians they blame for doing nothing on gun control in the face of mass shooting after mass shooting.
"People keep asking us, what about the Stoneman Douglas shooting is going to be different, because this has happened before and change hasn't come?" Cameron Kasky, an 11th-grader, told ABC's This Week. "This is it."
The FBI admitted to ignoring a tip about 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz and President Trump has pointed to the FBI mistake and mental health problems in the wake of the shooting.
He's declined to endorse any gun control policies.
The teens who witnessed their classmates die want more from Trump - who has yet to mention the word guns since the shooting - as well as Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Rick Scott and the National Rifle Association, which has vehemently opposed gun control measures.
They plan to create a "Badge of Shame" for politicians who continue to accept money from the NRA.
"At this point, any politician on either side who is taking money from the NRA is responsible for events like this," Kasky said. "… The NRA is fostering and promoting this gun culture in which people like Nikolas Cruz can gun down 17 innocent lives in our school."
High school student David Hogg addressed President Trump directly on NBC's Meet the Press, saying: "Children are dying, and their blood is on your hands because of that. Please take action. Stop going on vacation in Mar-a-Lago."
"This event happened on Valentine's Day. So many people lost loved ones. Our community and our nation have taken too many bullets to the heart. And now is the time for us to stand up … How many more students are going to have to die and have their blood spilt in American classrooms, trying to make the world a better place just because politicians refuse to take action," Hogg added.
The students calling for gun control action face a GOP-led Congress that has declined to pass any steps in the wake of mass shootings, including a ban on bump stocks used in the Las Vegas massacre, closing the gun show loophole that was exposed by the Charleston church shooting or expansions to the background check system.
Influential conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said what's really needed to protect students is allowing concealed weapons in schools to shoot down the next would-be murderer.
"The next shooter is out there. The next shooter probably has the gun he's going to use. The next shooter is known by many people in his community. … We have got to realise this is what our country has become," Limbaugh told Fox News Sunday.
Meanwhile, the evidence against Cruz is so overwhelming, the only question left for the courts if he is convicted is whether he will be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.
The fate of the 19 year old, who faces 17 counts of first-degree murder in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, will depend on his mental state and the wishes of the victims' families, who have a say in how the prosecution proceeds.
Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office is representing Cruz, said there were so many warning signs that Cruz was mentally unstable and potentially violent that the death penalty might be going too far. Finkelstein said Cruz would likely plead guilty if prosecutors opt not to seek the death penalty.
"Because that's what this case is about. Not, did he do it? Not, should he go free? Should he live or should he die," Finkelstein said. "He will never see the light of day again, nor should he. But I know personally I am very upset and angry that we all failed to spot a problem and do anything as a result." Michael J Satz, the state lawyer for Broward County, said in an email that "This certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for".
He called the slayings "absolutely horrific and tragic". However, he also said his office is working with law enforcement and will announce later what penalty it plans to seek.
The prosecution will likely take years.
A major issue for the courts will be Cruz's mental state. Officials have said he underwent unspecified treatment at a mental facility but quit after his mother died in November. His father had died some years earlier. Without any living parents, he was taken in by a local family.
Cruz's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill, told reporters after Cruz's initial court appearance that he had become unmoored from society and had no support network to lean on.
"When your brain is not fully developed, you don't know how to deal with these things," she said. "When you have the lack of impulse control that a 19 year old has, that affects the behaviour you exhibit." McNeill also said of Cruz: "He's sad, he's mournful, he's remorseful. He's just a broken human being."
An initial decision will be whether Cruz is mentally competent to understand legal proceedings and assist in his own defence. Experts say it's a relatively high bar to clear to be declared incompetent and McNeill said Cruz is "fully aware of what is going on".
Cruz could try to plead innocent by reason of insanity, which also rarely works.
James Holmes, the shooter who killed 12 people and wounded 70 in a Colorado movie theatre in 2012, was convicted despite pleading insanity and was sentenced to life behind bars.