18 Feb 2018

Florida shooting: Students demand tighter gun controls

12:26 pm on 18 February 2018

Survivors of a school shooting in the US state of Florida, in which 17 people died, have attended an emotionally charged rally demanding tighter gun controls.

People join together after a school shooting that killed 17 to protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse.

People join together after a school shooting that killed 17 to protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse. Photo: JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Protesters in Fort Lauderdale chanted "shame on you", referring to US lawmakers and President Donald Trump.

He said last year he would "never" infringe on the right to keep arms.

Suspect Nikolas Cruz has admitted carrying out the attack at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

It was the deadliest US school shooting since 2012 and has re-ignited long-running debates about tougher firearm restrictions.

Students and their parents - as well as politicians - took part in the event in Fort Lauderdale, close to Parkland.

Arguably the most memorable moment came when high school student Emma Gonzalez took to the podium and attacked the US president and other politicians for accepting political donations from the National Rifle Association, a powerful gun rights lobby group.

"If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and... 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," said Ms Gonzalez.

"It doesn't matter because I already know. Thirty million [US dollars]," she said, referring to donations during Mr Trump's presidential campaign.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA spent $11.4m supporting Mr Trump in the 2016 campaign, and $19.7m opposing Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump has not publicly spoken about gun control in the wake of the Parkland attack.

The president - and a number of other politicians - have blamed the shooter's mental health.

On Friday, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump met some of the survivors of the school shooting recovering at a hospital, and also thanked first responders at the local sheriff's office.

What do we know about the suspect?

Mr Cruz, 19, is a former student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

He was reportedly investigated by local police and the Department of Children and Family Services in 2016 after posting evidence of self-harm on the Snapchat app, according to the latest US media reports.

Child services said he had new injuries and said he planned to buy a gun, but authorities determined he was already receiving adequate support, the reports say.

The reports come after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) admitted it did not properly follow up on a tip-off about Mr Cruz last month.

The 5 January tip was not the only information the FBI received. In September, a Mississippi man reported to the law enforcement agency a disturbing comment left on a YouTube video under Mr Cruz's name.

Florida Governor Rick Scott called for FBI director Christopher Wray to resign over the failures to act.

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