February 25, 2018
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School attend a memorial following the shooting. PHOTO: REUTERS
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Students and teachers preparing on Sunday (Feb 25) to return to the Florida school that was the scene of a gruesome mass shooting called the prospect “daunting” and “scary” as they urged politicians to act swiftly to address gun violence.
“Imagine being in a plane crash – and having to get on the plane every day and go somewhere else,” David Hogg, a survivor of the Feb 14 shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school, told ABC’s This Week.
“I can’t imagine, emotionally, what me and my fellow students (will) go through that day.”
Some students and teachers will be back at the school on Sunday for what is being called “orientation.”
Teachers and staff are to return full-time on Monday and Tuesday to prepare their classrooms for students’ return on Wednesday.
Seventeen people died in the attack. Authorities have charged a 19-year-old former student, Nikolas Cruz, in the assault.
One teacher who has already been back told NPR radio that the shock of returning to a classroom left exactly as it had been during the attack – notebooks still on desks, the calendar still set to Feb 14 – made her so physically ill she had to leave.
Amid ardent demands by students like Hogg for action on tighter gun control, President Donald Trump has said he is open to raising the minimum wage for gun purchases and to banning so-called bump stocks, which can effectively convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic firearms.
‘RED FLAG’ LAW
Florida Governor Rick Scott on Friday laid out a plan to station a police officer at every public school, to raise the legal age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, and to pass a “red flag” law making it easier for authorities to remove guns from the mentally ill or people with violent histories.
The age change and “red flag” law are staunchly opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbying group.
Scott noted on the Fox News Sunday programme that he is an NRA member in good standing, and that “there will be some that disagree. But… I want my state to be safe.”
Trump has also proposed arming some teachers, a step many teachers strongly oppose.
Delaney Tarr, another survivor of the Florida shooting, said on Sunday on Fox that she was girding herself to return to school.
“It’s daunting… (and) scary because I don’t know if I’m going to be safe there,” she said.
“But I know that I have to.”