FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. ― Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez refuted President Donald Trump’s suggestion that her community didn’t take action to prevent a shooter from killing 17 at the school in a fiery Saturday speech. Politicians who take money from the NRA should feel ashamed, Gonzalez said, ending her address with “we call BS.”
“There’s one tweet that I would like to call attention to,” Gonzalez said at a rally at Ft. Lauderdale Federal Courthouse before reading the president’s Feb. 15 Twitter post that stressed people should’ve reported “bad and erratic behavior” to authorities.
“We did. Time and time again. Since [the accused shooter] was in middle school,” she replied. The accused gunman, Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been reported previously to the FBI.
“Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn’t know this kid! OK?” she shouted. “We did. We know that they are claiming that there are mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this is not just a mental health issue.”
“He wouldn’t have harmed that many students with a knife,” Gonzalez added.
More than 1,000 community members gathered at the courthouse to speak about the importance of gun control. Speakers included students and teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. The rally was sponsored by groups including Moms Demand Action, the Broward Teachers Union, and the League of Women Voters.
Gonzalez also criticized the family that Cruz had been living with before the shooting. With both parents dead, Cruz moved in with the family of a classmate, who knew about his fascination with guns. She then called out Trump’s February 2017 decision to repeal a gun law that blocked the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses.
“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,” Gonzalez said, sparking cheers and applause.
“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!” she added. A chant started up among those gathered: “Shame on you!”
Conservative politicians who have taken money from gun rights groups drew criticism in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting. The NRA spent $30.3 million supporting Trump’s campaign in the 2016 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
“Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this: We call BS!” Gonzalez said.