News World
  • Facebook
    Facebook
  • Twitter
    Twitter
  • Pinterest
    Pinterest
  • +
  • Linkedin
    Linkedin
  • WhatsApp
    WhatsApp
  • Email
    Email
SHARE THIS
  • Facebook
    Facebook
  • Twitter
    Twitter
  • Pinterest
    Pinterest
  • Linkedin
    Linkedin
  • WhatsApp
    WhatsApp
  • Email
    Email

It’s only been one week since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida by an expelled student that killed 17, injured more and terrified the country. In the previous seven days, the student survivors of that shooting have made it clear they will be using their experiences to fight for stricter gun control in the form of better background checks, more age and mental health restrictions and the all-out banning of army-style rifles like the one used in the shooting.

The students have been working tirelessly to not only bring awareness to their new cause, but to actually enact real change by going directly to lawmakers. Tuesday, a group of students went to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, to watch the state’s House of Representatives vote on a bill to ban semiautomatic weapons and large capacity magazines. The House refused to debate the bill and instead simply voted down the motion to discuss it. They did however, vote to deem pornography a “public health risk.” Thank goodness for that.

The students did not crumble in that defeat and instead continued their crusade. It’s common knowledge that you can’t tell a teenager “no” and now more than ever, that’s a great thing. On Wednesday, a group of students traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with President Donald Trump directly and others participated in a Town Hall hosted by CNN and attended by Florida lawmakers.

Trump’s Listening Session

In an effort to subvert political sides and simply focus on the issue at hand — protecting the children in America’s schools — Donald Trump hosted a small group of students and parents from Parkland and other previous school shootings to hear their stories of grief and their calls for action. All parties expressed frustration at the recurring nature of mass shootings in the United States. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the Parkland attack, put it succinctly: “It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it and I’m pissed. Because my daughter, I’m not going to see again.”

The White House did not publicize their selection process for the over 40 people in the room, but Pollack’s comments were the closest the president and administration got to any hardball questions. Journalists speculate that was by design. The most concrete request made by students was for a stricter age limitation on who can purchase and own a gun. The Parkland shooter was 19 years old, not old enough to drink in the United States but old enough to legally own a firearm.

Other floated ideas were on or close to the Republican party line. Nicole Hockley, mother of a victim from the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, appealed to Trump to implement more mental health programs and resources that could help identifying potential shooters before they act. Another parent made a suggestion often voiced by the NRA: give teachers and other school officials guns as a deterrent and for protection in the event of a shooting.

Trump’s Takeaway

At the conclusion of the meeting, Trump thanked the students and parents for sharing their stories and opinions. He told them his main takeaways were higher age limits, better background checks, a focus on mental health and the possibility of training and arming teachers. He doubled down on those points several times over the next 24 hours on Twitter.

In the hours after the event, people noticed something interesting about the piece of paper the president was holding the entire time. It seemed to be a little cheat sheet with notes to keep Trump on track and remind him to express basic human compassion. The internet was not impressed.

Trump compassion notes
Getty Images

More about the selection process can be gleaned by who was not in attendance. The students who had been the most vocal earlier in the week were apparently not invited. They urged people to watch the CNN town hall Wednesday night for real criticism of the stances held by Donald Trump, the Republican party and the NRA.

CNN town hall

The CNN Town Hall was nowhere near as diplomatic as the listening session. Students and parents spoke their grief plainly, made real calls for action and accused lawmakers to their faces of being complicit in the slaughter of children. The most notable exchanges were with Florida Senator Marco Rubio who, as a Republican, has taken donations from the NRA and stood by the lax gun regulations. At the very beginning of the broadcast, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed last week, called the government’s response to the tragedy “pathetically weak” and made his exasperation known when Rubio tried to spin the issue.

Student survivor Cameron Kasky challenged Rubio to reject any further donations to his future political campaigns from the NRA. In a stellar exchange, the Grade 11 student forced the issue until Rubio voiced all the changes he is willing to make and where he differs from the NRA’s agenda.

To Rubio’s credit, to Kasky and over the course of the Hall, he agreed to support raising the legal age to purchase a rifle from 18 years to 21 years and to make it illegal for anyone on the terrorism watch list to own a firearm. The senator also said that he does not believe in arming teachers, breaking with both the NRA and the president, and said he is “reconsidering” his support for large-capacity magazines.

So what happens now?

While the thought of teachers having to take on the responsibility of protecting their students by carrying firearms is terrifying, it should be noted that the president (especially this president) doesn’t write policy on his own. Any bill on changes to gun laws has to be carefully drafted and debated in congress before it reaches POTUS’s desk. Hopefully, lawmakers will be able to put politics aside and think instead of the safety of their children. As of right now, the American government has not put forth any evidence that arming teachers would prevent school shootings.

The most encouraging aspects of this whole situation are that these teens are truly on their way to making a difference and at least some lawmakers are taking them seriously. It was big of Rubio and the other politicians who attended the town hall to listen and respond to the students there. Hopefully, they will continue to listen as they draft policy to implement real changes.