Speaking out: Students who survived shooting talk activism
Many students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have turned into outspoken gun control advocates. Some of them say their stance on gun rights has changed. Others believed if they stayed silent, nothing would change.
About 100 of them traveled to the state capital to talk to Florida lawmakers Wednesday about tougher gun restrictions. During their 400-mile trip to Tallahassee, they spoke with The Associated Press. Here are some of their stories:
TRUMP SUPPORTER RECONSIDERS HIS STANCE
Kyle Kashuv, a 16-year-old junior, said he supported President Donald Trump in the last election and considers himself a Republican. But he said the shooting made him reconsider his position on guns, saying there needs to be stronger background checks to make sure mentally unstable people like Nikolas Cruz can’t purchase weapons.
“Previously I believed that everyone under the Constitution should be allowed to have guns, but I now realize that not everyone should have guns and we should have way stricter background checks and mental evaluations. ... We need to a middle ground and have some reform,” he said.
Unlike many other students, however, he still disagrees with a ban on AR-15s or any other weapon.
“What is the difference between an AR-15 and any other semi-automatic rifle? Just because it is the most popular doesn’t mean it is the most lethal,” he said. “Every single weapon is terrible when it is in the hands of someone who is mentally unstable. Guns have great usages for self-defense, so we don’t have to totally rely on the government.”
“IF LAWMAKERS WANT TO STAY ... THEY SHOULD HEAR US OUT”
Sarah Chadwick can’t vote because she is only 16 years old. But she traveled to Florida’s Capitol because she wants to change the minds of Republicans who support the NRA.
“Maybe if they see the victims themselves, something will spark a change in their mind,” she said.
She wants stricter gun laws, including better background and mental health checks.
“I feel like we are the voice of the upcoming generation,” she said. “If lawmakers want to stay where they are, they should hear us out and make a change.”
Bailey Feuerman said she rode the bus to Tallahassee because she never wants to see another tragedy like the one that happened at her high school.
“I hope to accomplish getting the lawmakers to understand what we’re going through, so that they can put in place stricter gun laws ... so that we don’t ever have to go through this again.”
“THEY SCREWED WITH THE WRONG COMMUNITY”
Jordan Faber wants to make the lawmakers really think about what happened, and get them to understand that if nothing changes, there will be another mass school shooting.
“There is no way this can happen again. They screwed with the wrong community. This is a smart, intelligent, beautiful community,” he said.
BE LOUD, BE PROUD
Rebecca Schneid said if the students would have stayed in Parkland, no one would ever hear them.
“We have to go to them and show them how loud our voices can get. Because if we don’t, how are they ever going to listen to us?” she said.
‘START A CONVERSATION’
Alfsonso Calderon, a 16-year-old junior, said he was interested in becoming a lawyer but might rethink that after last week’s events.
Born in Madrid, Spain, Alfsonso moved to Broward County when he was 6 and to Parkland two years ago.
He says the first step is key.
“We want to start a conversation,” he said. “The most important thing that we want to do is have our legislators and governors at least speak to us about possible change.
Follow the AP’s complete coverage of the Florida school shooting here: https://apnews.com/tag/Floridaschoolshooting
This story has corrected the spelling of Schneid’s last name.