Parkland students join lawmakers and gun safety advocates to call for change ahead of Saturday march
ABC News(PARKLAND, Fla.) — Students who survived the Parkland shooting last month joined with teachers, lawmakers and other stakeholders for a press conference on Capitol Hill today as part of their buildup to this weekend’s March for Our Lives on the National Mall.
Parkland student Aalayah Eastmond, who attended with her mother Stacey-Ann, urged lawmakers to take action, noting it’s been more than a month since the shooting.
“It’s been 36 days and nothing’s happened! We have to move fast,” she said.
Congress was on track to pass the FIX NICS bill, which will strengthen existing background checks on gun purchases, as part of a sweeping government funding measure, but Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called that effort “baby steps when we need real reform.”
The activists at the event called on Congress to ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, require universal background checks including at gun shows and online, and pass a “red flag” law that empowers law enforcement to remove guns from the possession of a person if he or she is deemed a danger to self or others.
U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Rand Paul, R-Fla., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., introduced such a bill Thursday.
Parkland librarian Diana Haneski, who protected students during the shooting, said she was compelled to join the students in Washington given what happened to them.
“If this were any other Thursday, I’d be back in the library, helping students, helping them learn, and I can’t be silent when there are solutions right in front of us,” she said.
Eastmond and David Hogg, another Parkland student and gun safety activist, said Saturday’s march was a kickoff, not a culmination, for their efforts.
“The march is just the start. We will fight for this until change happens. If you guys don’t want to hear about it anymore, fix it so we don’t have to keep repeating ourselves,” Eastmond said.
Hogg said the Parkland students and their supporters will seek to establish clubs across America that will organize students of all backgrounds to lobby their state capitals in favor of gun legislation they want to see passed.
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