Florida town's sorrow turns to anger toward inaction on guns

Updated 2018-02-18 14:21:01 Xinhua

As the names of the 17 people who were killed during a Valentine's Day shooting spree were being read in a vigil here Thursday evening, a thousand-strong crowd broke down in tears.

Those who died were friends, classmates, teammates, teachers and family members of residents of this peaceful neighborhood, making it particularly difficult for the mourners to grapple with the pain inflicted by Nikolas Cruz wielding an AR-15 a day earlier.

But not long after, the sentiment at Pine Trails Park, where the vigil was held, shifted from sorrow to anger. "No more guns!" the crowd began chanting as speakers slammed gun laws as a reason for the tragedy.

"Those who support gun rights will not be elected by us," a speaker said to cheering applause. Another speaker vowed to travel to Tallahassee, the state capital, to call for more strict gun regulations.

On Saturday, as residents of Parkland once again gathered near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School which was stricken by the shooting spree, gun control remained the rallying cry.

Delaney Tarr, a student at Stoneman Douglas, made an emotional appeal to the demonstrators to act against current gun laws.

Despite having been diagnosed with autism, Cruz was still permitted to legally purchase a semi-automatic rifle, she said.

Tyra Hemans, another student at the school who lost a close friend, said she can't understand why a mentally unstable person can easily purchase guns.

"You need to do psychological training. You need to make sure this person has sense," she said, holding up two cardboards in memory of her friend and a coach who died.

Hemans planned to tell U.S. President Donald Trump her anger with the lax gun regulations when he come to Florida, but didn't get a chance.

After arriving in Florida late Friday, Trump paid a quick visit to a hospital where the wounded were being treated, and attended a meeting with local first responders, who he praised are the heroes in the tragedy.

On Saturday, Trump called city officials again to offer his condolences, but the topic of gun control was never mentioned in his remarks.

During his televised speech addressing the tragedy on Thursday, Trump avoided the subject of gun legislation reform.

"You are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you. If you need help, turn to a teacher, a family member, a local police officer, or a faith leader. Answer hate with love; answer cruelty with kindness," Trump said in a message directed at the country's children, but stayed vague on how to keep the children "safe."

"They said every time something like this is not going to happen again, but it's happening again and again, so we obviously are doing something wrong," said Annabel Claprood, a 17-year-old student at Stoneman Douglas high school.

"You should not have a gun at the age of 18," Claprood said, noting the minimum age to buy guns being lower than to drink alcohol makes no sense.

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