'We aren't politicians, but we have voices': Shooting survivors push lawmakers on gun laws
Graham Slaughter, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, February 20, 2018 9:36PM EST
A group of students who survived a massacre at their Florida high school is optimistic that their anti-gun message will be heard by the state’s Republican politicians.
A busload of students headed to Tallahassee Tuesday in hopes of pushing legislators to adopt stricter gun control laws in the wake of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty members were killed last Wednesday.
It was the deadliest school shooting since 28 students and teachers were killed in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.
Diego Pfeiffer, one of the students travelling to meet lawmakers, said the group planned to share their story.
“We are hopeful that we can go up there and change at least a couple of minds on our experience,” he told CTV News Channel on Tuesday.
Florida has a Republican governor, Rick Scott, and the state voted for U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. election. The Republican Party has deep ties to the National Rifle Association and has historically blocked attempts to strengthen gun control, including attempts to tighten rules around screening.
Partisan politics aside, Pfeiffer is hoping the country’s latest mass shooting will be a watershed moment.
“We’re going up there and we know that there are different opinions. But I also will point out that there have been different opinions in the past. You look at slavery, and you look at the women’s suffrage movement and the African-American suffrage movement, there have been a lot of different opinions,” he said.
“I will tell you, the good guys always win.”
The White House has already shown some reception to new gun laws. On Tuesday, Trump took steps to ban bump stocks, a device that can turn legal, semi-automatic guns into powerful machine guns. A bump stock was used in the Las Vegas massacre, the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, where 58 people were killed from a lone gunman.
Earlier this week, the White House said Trump is open to tighter background checks for gun purchases.
Pfeiffer said the president’s moves are “steps in the right direction.”
“I encourage them, please, talk to us. We’ve got some great ideas,” he said. “We aren’t politicians, but we have voices.”
In the past six days, the students have been jerked between mourning their friends, to conducting live television interviews, to organizing rallies in hopes of sparking a movement. They’ve used the hashtag “#NeverAgain” to draw attention to their cause.
The tireless push to pass stronger gun control laws is meant to honour the lives lost, Pfeiffer says.
“We want to make this change for them.”