Thousands gathered Saturday for a rally outside the federal courthouse, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.—about 25 miles away from the mass shooting Wednesday—where speakers including survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre gave powerful speeches for gun control.
Among them was Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez, who slammed President Donald Trump, denounced the many politicians who receive donations from the powerful National Rifle Association of America (NRA), and called BS on those who "say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence."
She began by saying that the "school bard, faculty members, family members, and most importantly the students—the students who are dead, the students who are still in the hospital, the students who are now suffering from PTSD, the students who had panic attacks during the vigil because [of] the helicopters who wouldn't leave us alone hovering over the school 24 hours a day"—would make sure the school shooting that just took place in their community would be the last.
"There has been one tweet that I'd like to call attention to," she said, referencing a tweet from Trump the morning after the shooting: "So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!"
"We did," Gonzalez said. "Time and time again."
"Those who talk about how we should have not ostracized him," she said, referring to suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz, "you didn't know this kid. We did. We know that they are claiming there are mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist. But we need to pay attention to the fact that this isn't just a mental health issue."
"To every politician who has taken donations from the NRA: Shame on you.""He wouldn't have harmed that many students with a knife!"
"How about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter's fault, the faults of the people who let him buy the guns in the first place, those at the gun shows, the people who encouraged him to buy accessories for his guns to make them fully automatic, the people who didn't take them away from him when they knew that he expressed homicidal tendencies. And I am not talking about the FBI," she said. "I am talking about the people that he lived with him, I'm talking about the neighbors who saw him outside holding guns."
"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."
"But hey, you want to know something? It doesn't matter because I already know. $30 million! And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you Trump?"
"If you don't do anything to prevent this from ...continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up, and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you."
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"To every politician who has taken donations from the NRA: Shame on you," she said to cheers.
"If your money was as threatened as us, would your first thought be, 'How is this going to reflect on my campaign? Which should I choose?' Or would you choose us? And if you answered 'us,' will you act like it for once?" Gonzalez asked.
"The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us, and us kids seem to be the only ones to notice and are prepared to call BS.""You know what would be a good way to act like it? I have an example of how not to act like it. In February of 2017, one year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses. From the interactions that I had had with the shooter, before the shooting, and the information that I currently know about him, I don't really know if he was mentally ill but—I wrote this before I found out that he was diagnosed—I don't need a psychologist and I don't need to be a psychologist to know that repealing that regulation was a really dumb idea."
"Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was the sole sponsor on this bill that stops the FBI from performing background checks on people adjudicated to be mentally ill and now he's stated for the record, 'Well, it's a shame that the FBI isn't doing background checks on these mentally ill people.' Well duh! You took that opportunity away last year," she said.
"The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us," she charged, "and us kids seem to be the only ones to notice and are prepared to call BS."
"Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers nowadays, saying that all we are is self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us to submission when our message doesn't reach the ears of the nation-- we are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded house and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could ever have been done to prevent this, we call BS!"
"They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS! They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad buy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS! They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS! That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works, we call BS!."
"If you agree," she concluded, "register to vote, contact your local congresspeople, and give them a piece of your mind."
Watch her full speech below, uploaded to Twitter by CNN's Joshua Chavers:
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) February 17, 2018