A survivor of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida has said policymakers “need to look in the mirror and take some action”.
“My sister is a freshman, and she had two of her best friends die – that’s not acceptable. That is something we should not let happen in this country,” he told CNN. “We need to dig out of this hole… there is something seriously wrong here. And some of our policymakers… need to look in the mirror and take some action because… without action, ideas stay ideas and children die.”
At least 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, about 45 miles north of Miami, were killed after a gunman opened fire on them with an automatic rifle. It was one of the deadliest school shootings on record in the US. Officials said another 14 were seriously injured.
The suspect has been identified as 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, who was arrested after a brief manhunt. Mr Cruz had been expelled for “disciplinary reasons”, while teachers said they had previously been warned that he could pose a danger to the campus.
The incident has again demonstrated the divide between Democrats and Republicans on gun policy.
“Please don’t pray for me. Your prayers do nothing. Show me you care in the polls,” wrote another survivor on Facebook. In a long post, junior Cameron Kasky blasted Florida’s Republican senator Marco Rubio and Republican Governor Rick Scott.
At Capitol Hill in Washington, Republicans offered their condolences while Democrats called for action.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor said it was time to do something about the gun violence epidemic.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, a prominent advocate for gun control, had addressed the issue on the Senate floor on Wednesday. He had originally planned to discuss a separate issue, but spoke for several minutes on that day’s shooting.
“This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America – this epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting,” said Mr Murphy, who represents the district where the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place in 2012 where 26 people were killed.
He added: “It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible.”
Gun violence has become a regular occurrence at US schools and universities. There has been an average of one school shooting per week since 2014, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a research and advocacy group that lobbies the government for stricter gun control laws.
In January, a 15-year-old gunman killed two students at a Benton, Kentucky high school.