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Florida students to march on Washington in call for gun reform

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Students who survived a mass shooting at their Florida school on Sunday announced plans to march on Washington in a bid to "shame" lawmakers into reforming laws that make powerful firearms readily available.

The "March for our Lives" will take place on March 24, with sister marches planned across the country, a group of students told ABC News, vowing to make Wednesday's shooting a turning point in America's deadlocked debate on gun control.

Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a troubled former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has confessed to killing 17 people with a legally-purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the latest such atrocity in a country plagued by gun violence.

Among the students announcing the march was Emma Gonzalez, who captured worldwide attention with a powerful speech in which she assailed President Donald Trump over the multi-million-dollar support his campaign received from the gun lobby, and vowed Stoneman Douglas would be "the last mass shooting."

On Sunday, the 18-year-old Gonzalez urged politicians to join a conversation about gun control -- citing Trump as well as Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott, who are fellow Republicans.

"We want to give them the opportunity to be on the right side of this," she said, as she and her four classmates called on students nationwide to help push the message across.

Singling out the links between politicians and the powerful National Rifle Association, fellow student Cameron Kasky said any politician "who is taking money from the NRA is responsible for events like this."

"This isn't about the GOP," he said, referring to the Republican Party. "This isn't about the Democrats."

Accusing the NRA of "fostering and promoting this gun culture," Kasky said the students sought to "create a new normal where there's a badge of shame on any politician who's accepting money from the NRA."

"People keep asking us, what about the Stoneman Douglas shooting is going to be different, because this has happened before and change hasn't come?" said Kasky.

"This is it."

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