ABCNews.com(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — They were cheered at rallies for their moving stories of survival. They were comforted by politicians who wore ribbons in honor of their dead classmates.
But the students who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School say the things they didn’t receive in their trip to the Florida state capital are promises from lawmakers that their school will be made safe and that assault weapons like the one used in the slaughter on their campus will be banned.
After meetings with legislators in Tallahassee, Alphonso Calderon, a 16-year-old junior, said he was left feeling that he and his classmates “were not being taken seriously enough.”
“Although we are just kids, we know we are old enough to understand financial responsibility, we are old enough to understand whether a senator cares about reelection or not. We are old enough to understand why someone would want to discredit us for their own political purposes,” Alphonso said at a news conference. “But we will not be silenced.”
He and his classmates who endured the horror that invaded their school a week ago Wednesday said any politician hoping the students’ “Never Again” movement will cease with the passage of time do not understand their resolve.
“Trust me, I understand. I was in a closet locked for four hours with people I would consider almost family crying and weeping on me, begging for their lives,” Alphonso said. “I understand what it’s like to text my parents goodbye, that I might not ever, ever get to see you again and say ‘I love you.’ I understand what it’s like to fear for your life.”
Ryan Deitsch, 18, said he was not satisfied by the words he heard from lawmakers.
“I will say that I’m a high school senior. I do not know the exact course of action to take. I don’t know exactly what needs to be done. I just know what we’re doing now is not enough if I have to keep seeing neighbors die, if I have to keep seeing friends die,” Deitsch said.
“I fear after talking to representatives today that that is not enough, that one trip to Tallahassee I knew was not going to be enough,” he added.
He said he watched in disbelief Tuesday night as Florida legislators voted down a proposal to ban the purchases of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.
“I want to see those people who shot down that bill, who did not let it get past the committee,” Deitsch said. “I want to see those people. I’m not here for a fight, I’m not here to argue with you, I just want to speak, I just want to see your face and know why.”
At a rally outside the Old State Capitol Building, Florence Yared, a 17-year-old Stoneman Douglas student, stared out at a massive crowd and described how her school was “viciously attacked.”
“No longer can I walk the halls I walked billions of times before without fear and sadness,” Florence said. “No longer can I walk the halls without hearing the gunshots. No longer can I walk the halls without seeing blood stains and dead bodies all because of the damage a single AR-15 rifle caused.”
She recalled lessons learned about the Second Amendment in her history classes, but said the right to bear arms “does not and will never overpower the individuals right to life and liberty.”
“The only purpose of an assault weapon like this is to kill and to kill as many people as possible,” she said. “I’m not trying to take away your Second Amendment rights, nor am I trying to eliminate all guns, but we cannot protect our guns before we can protect our children.”
While the students continued to make change in Tallahassee, a half dozen of their classmates and their parents were at the White House this afternoon meeting with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in what was was being described as a listening session.
Also at the meeting were other students from Washington, D.C., and gun control advocates, including Mark Barden, whose son, Daniel, was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
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