The survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School want to be the last students to live through a school shooting – and they have a plan to make that happen.
One hundred students from the Florida high school, where a lone gunman killed 17 students and staff members last week, have travelled to the state capital of Tallahassee to meet with legislators and hold a march for gun safety reform.
“It really needs to be recognised that they need to stop fighting each other and starting working together,’’ Jaclyn Corin, the student and junior class president who conceived of the trip, told the Tampa Bay Times. “This has to be the last school this happens to.”
The trip is just the first step in waves of action planned by the teenage survivors, who have been outspoken in both mainstream and social media about their demand for more gun control in the wake of the shooting. The students have planned a nationwide March for Our Lives rally for 24 March, and are participating in a nationally televised town hall with CNN.
Some students – though the White House did not specify who – will also participate in a listening session with President Donald Trump.
The students and their chaperones are making the 450 mile journey to Tallahassee by bus, after first attending a funeral for former classmate Carmen Schentrup. Carmen, age 16, was killed when former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire on the school with an AR-15 on Valentine’s Day.
The trip will culminate in the Rally to Support Gun Safety Reform this afternoon, at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. The rally, co-sponsored by the Florida Coalition To Prevent Gun Violence and the League of Women Voters of Florida, will demand the prohibition of assault rifles and large-capacity magazines, according to its Facebook page. The students will speak alongside State Senator Gary Farmer and State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith.
More than 600 people – including survivors of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016 – have already RSVPed to the rally on Facebook. The nearby Leon County school district will excuse students from class for the rally, and even bus them to the event, Superintendent Rocky Hanna told the Tallahassee Democrat.
The students will also meet with state legislators throughout the two day visit. According to Ms Corin, the pupils will encourage legislators to act on gun control bills that have been introduced to the Senate, but never passed.
Ms Corin posted screenshots of three Florida Senate bills on Twitter: one that would repeal prohibitions on record-keeping of firearm owners, one that would require gun sales to go through a licensed dealer with a three-day waiting period, and one that would prohibit the sale of assault rifles and large capacity magazines.
“My classmates and I will be focusing on these bills,” she tweeted. “We are not yet allowed to bring about our own, but that does not mean we can’t introduce our own ideas – DON’T WORRY! Our hope is that the Senate may have a special session in the future using our suggestions for new bills.”
Students have already confirmed meetings with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senate President Joe Negron, and Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, according to the Times. Ms Corin tweeted on Tuesday that Governor Rick Scott had also agreed to a meeting.
Senator Lauren Book, who represents the county where the shooting occurred, is helping to organise the trip. In an interview with the Democrat, she praised Ms Corin as “the epitome of strength, advocacy and tenacity”.
“I hope that my daughter will be half the young woman that she is, dealing with such horrific events,” she said.