President Donald Trump vowed Thursday on the first anniversary of the Parkland school massacre that he will “not rest” until U.S. schools are made safe.
In the statement, Trump claimed that 12 months after a former student at the Florida school shot dead 14 pupils and three staff with a military-style rifle, “tremendous strides” have already been made.
“Today, as we hold in our hearts each of those lost a year ago in Parkland, let us declare together, as Americans, that we will not rest until our schools are secure and our communities are safe,” the president said.
Calling school safety “a top priority,” Trump listed measures including a ban on “bump stocks” – a modification allowing store-bought semi-automatic weapons to fire similarly to a fully automatic weapon, delivering an uninterrupted torrent of bullets.
Trump said care for mental health and school security was also much improved since last year.
However, efforts to curb the steady flood of U.S. gun violence are tightly constrained by pressure from Trump’s Republican Party and the gun ownership rights’ lobby, which see even modest restrictions on access to firearms as violating the Constitution.
Quiet Day of Mourning
The city of Parkland came to a standstill Thursday to remember the victims of a school shooting, which ignited a student crusade against gun violence.
Survivor Emma Gonzalez, who emerged as a leading activist after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said the gun control movement known as the March for Our Lives will go off-line and silent from Thursday through the weekend.
“Like so many others in our community, I’m going to spend that time giving my attention to friends and family, and remembering those we lost,” Gonzalez wrote in a statement.
“The 14th is a hard day to look back on. But looking at the movement we’ve built – the movement you created and the things we’ve already accomplished together – is incredibly healing,” she wrote.
"People would say to me that we need to fix this, and I realized right away that what they were really saying is, 'I can't do it. You have to do it.’”
One year ago, @lorialhadeff lost her daughter Alyssa at Parkland.
Now, she’s fighting for school safety. pic.twitter.com/d2lYwHFPDN
— VICE News (@vicenews) February 14, 2019
The school says it will mark the anniversary with a “non-academic” day, offering counseling services. It will close its doors before 2:20 pm, the moment when the shooting started.
A March for Our Lives spokesman said many students will not show up for school.
No protest marches are expected, nor are student sit-ins or anti-gun campaigning.
“For this date we wanted to stay quiet, simply out of respect,” said 15-year-old shooting survivor Ryan Servaites.
“You know, this affected us very personally. We know this community. We’re from Parkland and we love Parkland and we simply don’t want to turn this into a day of protest when it really should be a day of mourning.”
Parkland and neighboring Coral Springs, home to many students of the activist movement, will hold events to honor the victims of the shooting.
In Parkland, at a park next to the school, mental health professionals will be deployed as will dogs meant to provide comfort. So will staff from a food program for needy kids. An ecumenical religious service will be held.
More on the Subject
The mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida revived the deeply divided sentiments of Americans over the Second Amendment and gun control.
Unfortunately, according to PEW Research center, the feelings and the arguments are not that different than those in the aftermaths of Virginia Tech in 2007, Tucson, Arizona in 2011, Aurora, Colorado and Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. Not to mention more recent mass shootings in San Bernardino, Orlando, and Las Vegas.
According to the most recent Gallup poll, 46 percent of Americans want stricter gun laws, while a whopping 71 percent are against banning guns. In fact, the latter is an uptick from a 2012 Pew poll asking the same question about a total ban.