In an emotional speech Saturday, Emma Gonzalez — a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — torched President Donald Trump, Republicans and the National Rifle Association over their response to the deadly mass shooting that left 17 dead and more than a dozen wounded on Wednesday at the Florida high school.
“The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us,” Gonzalez said at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Saturday. “And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call B.S.”
“Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this, we call B.S.”
On Wednesday, Nikolas Cruz — a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the Broward County high school — allegedly used a legally purchased AR-15 to gun down his former classmates, as well as several school employees.
The shooting immediately spurred renewed calls for gun control, but Trump — who received millions of dollars from the NRA in 2016 — said in an address Thursday that the tragedy demonstrated the need to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”
He didn’t say the word “gun” once.
Gonzalez slammed Trump for that response, saying that Cruz “wouldn’t have harmed that many students with a knife.”
The student also called out Trump for a tweet he sent out the day after the shooting, in which Trump seemed to blame the suspected killer’s classmates for failing to warn law enforcement about him.
“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from the school for bad and erratic behavior,” Trump tweeted. “Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
“We did,” Gonzalez said Saturday. “Time and time again.”
“How about we stop blaming victims for something that was the shooter’s fault?” she continued. “The fault of the people who let him buy the guns in the first place?”
Students, parents and faculty of the Florida high school have spent days demanding that politicians finally take action to prevent tragedies like the one they experienced Wednesday.
In a powerful interview with CNN, Lori Alhadeff — the mother of victim Alyssa Alhadeff — pleaded for Trump to take “action” in response to the shooting.
“I just spent the last two hours putting the burial arrangements for my daughter’s funeral, who’s 14,” the mother shouted. “President Trump, please do something. Do something. Action. We need it now. These kids need safety now.”
On Saturday, Gonzalez picked up those calls for action, blasting Trump and other politicians who have accepted money from the powerful gun lobby and rolled back regulations.
She called particular attention to Trump’s rollback of an Obama-era regulation designed to make it tougher for individuals with mental illness to obtain guns — a reversal that was supported by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who on Thursday said, “We have not done a very good job of making sure that people that have mental reasons for not being able to handle a gun getting their name into the FBI files.”
“You took that opportunity away last year,” Gonzalez said Saturday.
The student said that Wednesday’s tragedy would be a turning point in the gun debate and that Stoneman Douglas would be “the last mass shooting.”
“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you,” she said, leading a chant of “shame on you.”
She wasn’t the only student to speak at the anti-gun rally on Saturday.
Delaney Tarr, a Stoneman Douglas senior, said in a stirring speech that she has gone from worrying over grades, college acceptance and her social life to “funerals, gun control and whether or not I’m going to be shot wherever I go.”
“My innocence, our innocence, has been taken from us,” Tarr said. “I’m 17, but in a matter of days I have aged decades.”