The Current

'Blame everything but a gun': School-shooting survivors say political response is just crocodile tears

Feeling failed by the adults supposed to protect them, students have started #NeverAgain, a growing movement calling for gun control in the U.S.
Students rally in solidarity with those affected by the school shooting in Florida, at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 21. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

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Survivors of the Florida school shooting have criticized the "crocodile tears" of politicians, calling responses to their calls for gun control a "cop-out."

Leonor Muñoz said that mental health is an issue that should be looked at, but "the common thread is always guns." (Submitted by Leonor Muñoz)

Leonor Muñoz, 17, was in the auditorium at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the shooting started.

Running hand-in-hand with a classmate, they managed to evade the alleged gunman. Seventeen people, 14 students and three staff remembers, died in the attack on Feb. 14.

Muñoz is now one of the many voices in the #NeverAgain movement, as survivors and their supporters call for gun control.

They took their message to legislators in Tallahassee, Florida's state capital on Wednesday, as well as participating in a town hall event that night.

"This individual was nuts," Dana Loesch, an NRA spokeswoman, said at the town hall event.

"And I, nor the millions of people that I represent… none of us support people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others, getting their hands on a firearm."

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Muñoz called Loesch's comments a cop-out.

"A lot of these shootings happen, and always the NRA tries to blame it on mental illness, or on terrorism or on literally anything," she said.

"But the common thread is always guns."

"Yes mental health is an issue that we as a nation need to address," she added, "but guns escalate that issue."

"Mental health alone does not take away 17 lives."

'Adults aren't doing anything'

Mallory Muller, 17, was one of the survivors visiting Tallahassee yesterday, where students called on politicians to raise age restrictions, increase security at schools, and ban the sale of assault rifles.

"When speaking to a lot of Republican senators, none of them could even find a good reason as to why you would need an assault rifle," she said.

Their presence, Muller said, was met with "a lot of crocodile tears."

"One senator called this a field trip," she said, "that was really hurtful."

Jake Fales is a member of a student group that advocates for gun control. (Submitted by Jake Fales )

Jake Fales is an 18-year-old senior at Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan.

He agreed that the political response is avoiding the issue of gun control, saying that President Trump's response sounded "like he is blaming pretty much everything but a gun."

The images from the shooting in Florida resonated with him and his friends, who are active in a group called Michigan Students for Gun Legislation. Over 100,000 people have signed their online petition: Students Fighting Guns Since Adults Won't.

Six people were murdered in a series of seemingly random shootings in Kalamazoo on Feb. 20, 2016.

Fales remembers those shootings, but thinks that at the time he and his peers belived that "adults are going to do something about it."

"Over the years," he said, "it's become increasingly apparent that they aren't doing anything about it."

"We need to step up. We need to voice our opinions. We need to get heard — so we can make the change."

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This could happen at any school

A former Republican congressman tweeted a suggestion that the students driving the #NeverAgain movement are being exploited by left-wing groups, as a means to implement gun control.

He repeated the suggestion in an interview with CNN.

Muñoz argued that this is not a partisan issue.

"This is an issue of protecting our schools, our children," she said.

"Democrats and Republicans already have enough issues in which to argue on, but this is our lives."

"What happened at Stoneman Douglas, it could have happened at any school… and I don't want that to happen."

"You don't need to be a Democrat or a Republican to realize that our lives are at stake."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this page, where you can also share this article across email, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Karin Marley.


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