Latest from Parkland: School security, survivors & confronting lawmakers
“NEVER AGAIN” MOVEMENT
Seventeen teenagers and teachers—shot and killed by a 19-year-old the FBI failed to act on.
Now, the people closest to the families going home to one less person are putting gun violence and laws front and center.
Children are already taking their message to the White House. Seventeen teens lied down in front of the gates as a visual reminder of the 17 victims whose deaths could have been prevented.
And right now, teenagers who survived the Parkland shooting are preparing to travel to Florida’s capitol to seek out lawmakers about changing gun laws in the country.
“It’s not fair; we shouldn’t be afraid to go to school, we should feel safe,” said student Alexis Nilsson.
The students are also inspiring an online movement, titled “Never Again”, to save others from the horror they experienced first hand.
“We’re going to demand change. I mean, enough is enough,” said student Madison Lial.
Carly Orenstein goes to another Parkland school, but is in the fight with her friends to change gun laws.
“It takes a lot of courage,” she said. “It takes a lot of strength to do that because a lot of those adults over there, they’re going to say we’re too young to understand.”
But Orenstein will be there to tell those lawmakers they do understand, and will push their message, one she hopes will stick.
“We are so small and nobody across the county knew who we were before Feb. 14,” Orenstein said. “Now everybody knows who we are and we don’t want anybody to forget us—never.”
IMPROVING SCHOOL SAFETY
Down the road from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students are speaking out—seeking protection from violence.
These parents and children live in Plantation. And residents aren’t sure if they feel safe following last week’s massacre.
But deputies are making their presence known at schools like those in Plantation. They want to ensure the safety of children and give parents peace of mind. Schools across Collier County are also beefing up security to keep kids safe in the classroom.
“I think it’s a big concern for all the parents,” said Naples parent Natalia Ocsoy.
Concerns that prompted the sheriff’s office to add at least one extra deputy to assist those already stationed in the county’s schools. But while many parents are happy to see the extra deputy presence, some say the district could still do more.
“I think there’s always a need for security. It’s never enough. It could be cameras and other systems. Maybe utilize some more technology in schools to enhance the security of entry and exit,” said Naples resident Alp Ozsoy.
Along with the extra security, CCSO is telling parents to monitor their children’s social media feeds. Threats made on social media could land kids behind bars. Authorities say that even if it’s a joke in poor taste, they take those threats seriously.
Many parents say it’s going to take a community-wide effort to keep children safe.
Right now, the sheriff’s office is still investigating some social media threats made to schools in Collier County. They’re urging parents to speak with their kids about online behavior.
LOCAL POLITICIAN DEMANDING ACTION
No more money—until gun violence is addressed.
A major donor to the GOP is pulling all of his money until the country starts talking seriously about gun control.
It’s a movement of taking politicians to task—and kids are demanding answers from the people who represent them, marching against those who receive support from the NRA.
And people are now paying attention to these young voices.
“It seems like it is changing. I think the kids are smarter than all the politicians quite frankly,” said one student.
Now, a Fort Myers man is joining their fight. And big-name Republicans know him well.
“I will not write a check for anyone who does not propose a ban on assault style weapons,” said Al Hoffman Jr.
Hoffman Jr. has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Republicans like Governor Rick Scott. But not anymore, he says, unless they change the way they vote—for a ban on military assault rifles.
“I would support a fiscally conservative person who supports the ban and at this moment in time I really don’t care whether it’s a republican or democrat,” Hoffman Jr. said.
But not everyone in SWFL is in agreement with him.
“Have you ever seen a gun jump off the table on its own and shoot somebody? No…there has to be someone behind that rifle,” said Naples resident Robert Harper.
But Hoffman Jr. is not a politician—he’s a supporter—and can do what he wants with his money.
“It’s not gonna change, but I hope it will.”
A sentiment echoed by many.