Earlier this week, the entire country was shocked as a lone gunman opened fire on a South Florida high school, killing 17 people and injuring 15 others. The suspected shooter is 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who was arrested and charged shortly after the attack on Wednesday, and the shooting (which is already the 18th of its kind in 2018) has brought the issue of gun control in America back into sharp focus.
In the wake of the attack, Donald Trump has waded into the issue, giving his insights on the death and tragedy that day, but the president is once again under fire for his comments following the attack, implying in a tweet that mental health issues were to blame for a teenager opening fire on a high school.
Negotiations on DACA have begun. Republicans want to make a deal and Democrats say they want to make a deal. Wouldn’t it be great if we could finally, after so many years, solve the DACA puzzle. This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 13 February 2018
Not only are Trump’s comments slightly wide of the mark (Cruz was actually reported to authorities several times – including the FBI – before the fateful shooting, to no avail), but they’ve also drawn criticism from Cruz’s former classmates. One of them has spoken out passionately against the president and his outspoken views.
This is Emma Gonzalez, who took the podium at a rally in Fort Lauderdale Federal Courthouse, where more than 1,000 community members gathered to discuss the importance of gun control. “There’s one tweet that I would like to call attention to,” Gonzalez said, as she refuted the idea that this all could’ve been prevented by reporting “bad and erratic behavior” to authorities.
Here’s the speech from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez at an anti-gun rally happening today in Fort Lauderdale https://t.co/CyfMnPDAvW // https://t.co/hgewZy4Cxf https://t.co/gssAmGczuH
— Joshua Chavers (@JoshuaChavers) 17 February 2018
“We did. Time and time again. Since [the accused shooter Nikolas Cruz] was in middle school,” said Gonzalez, before taking aim at certain corners of society who somehow saw it fit to blame the victims of the school shooting for failing to integrate him into their groups.
“Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn’t know this kid! OK? We did. We know that they are claiming that there are mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this is not just a mental health issue.”
Next, Gonzalez took aim at the lack of progress concerning gun control in the United States, noting that “he wouldn’t have harmed that many students with a knife”. She called out Donald Trump for his comments, and questioned the authenticity of his words in light of his views with the National Rifle Association.
“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy, and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.”
Conservative politicians who have taken funding from the NRA in the past have again come under fire following Wednesday’s tragedy, while Trump himself received as much as $30.3 million from the association during his successful 2016 Presidential campaign. In her speech, Gonzalez reflected the thoughts of many Americans around the world when she called for the end to the hypocrisy when it came to gun control in the United States.
“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you! Shame on you! Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this: We call BS!”
Gun control is, and will continue to be, a contentious issue in the United States, but as the incidents grow more frequent, the body counts start to rise and nothing continues to be done, there will surely be more tragic speeches in the vein of Emma Gonzalez’s here, and perhaps then we will start to see a change.