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A vigil for the 17 victims of Wednesday's school shooting in Parkland, Florida took on the appearance of a rally, as mourners demanded reforms to gun laws that allowed Nikolas Cruz to legally purchase the AR-15 rifle he used at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednsday. (Photo: @BuzzfeedNews/Twitter)

At Vigil for Florida Shooting Victims, Those Closest to Attack Demand Strict Gun Control

"If you are an elected official and you want to keep things the way they are and not do things differently, if you want to keep the gun laws as they are now—you will not get re-elected in Broward County."

Julia Conley, staff writer

A vigil for the 17 people who were killed in Wednesday's shooting at a Florida high school was marked by anger and demands for policy changes as well as grief.

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland broke out in chants of "No more guns!" echoing several calls by community members who have demanded reforms that could have kept alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz from obtaining the AR-15 that was used in the shooting.

Parents of students who were killed expressed shock that such an attack could happen in the Miami suburb—repeating sentiments heard after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 and the 185 other school shootings that have taken place since.

"Don't tell me there's no such thing as gun violence," Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jamie was killed, said at the gathering. "It happened in Parkland... What is unfathomable is that Jamie took a bullet and is dead."

Anthony Rizzo, a baseball player for the Chicago Cubs and a 2007 graduate of the school, was also among the speakers.

"While I don't have all the answers, I know that something has to change, before this is visited on another community, and another community, and another community," Rizzo told the crowd of thousands.

The immediate furious response of community members, directed at President Donald Trump and legislators who have insisted that now is not the time to debate gun laws, has made the Parkland shooting unique in a nation where such attacks are frequently followed by calls for unity and expressions of "thoughts and prayers" from politicians.

While conservative commentators including Tomi Lahren and lawmakers including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have repeated familiar calls to allow the Parkland community to mourn without discussing gun legislation—those closest to the shooting have strongly pushed back.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel received a standing ovation when he spoke directly at the vigil about the need to vote pro-gun politicians out of office.

"If you are an elected official and you want to keep things the way they are and not do things differently, if you want to keep the gun laws as they are now—you will not get re-elected in Broward County," he said.


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