- By Andrew Marra
- Kenya Woodard Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
UPDATE 12:58 p.m.: Thousands of students and supporters rallied at the state Capitol to call for stronger gun control measures, including students who survived last week’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and hundreds of college students who marched from Florida State University and Florida A&M University.
The rally took place after the dozens of Douglas High students, who rode buses to Tallahassee Tuesday evening, met with state lawmakers and sat through legislative hearings.
ORIGINAL STORY: About 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School poured into the state Capitol this morning to call for tighter gun control laws in the wake of last week’s massacre on their school campus, where they met with lawmakers and planned to join with college students for a noon rally.
The students arrived at a Tallahassee high school to extended applause late Tuesday after a 400-mile trip on three buses.
The students told about 500 students and parents waiting for them that they are fighting to protect all students.
"We're what's making the change,” said Alfonso Calderon, a 16-year-old junior. “We're going to talk to these politicians tomorrow. We're going to talk to them the day after that. We're going to keep talking, we're going to keep pushing until something is done because people are dying and this can't happen anymore.”
Shortly before noon, hundreds of college students from Florida State University and Florida A&M University marched toward the Capitol to join them.
After spending the night at Tallahassee’s Tucker Civic Center, the students traveled to the Capitol this morning.
A rally at the Capitol is scheduled for noon, and some students are expected to meet today with Gov. Rick Scott. Also on hand to support the students: members of the Broward County teachers union.
As the students converged on the Capitol, the state Senate opened its daily session this morning with a display of the victims from last week’s massacre, in which 14 students and three adults were killed.
Later in the morning, the Senate passed a bill allowing guns at churches with schools. It postponed another vote on a bill easing gun permitting.
Around 11 a.m., students met with House Speaker Richard Corocan, who told them the tragedy left him “tremendously heartbroken.”
Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, chair of the Senate’s appropriations committee, told students in a separate meeting that lawmakers are “trying to have meaningful, real action, not just rhetoric and talk.”
“I just want you to understand that we are moving as quickly as the system allows, with the urgency that is deserving of the emotion and the concern that I hope that you understand that – I speak for myself – that I feel,” he said, according to CNN.
Later in the morning, several students met with state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, and recounted the terror of last Wednesday’s attack.
“No one should have to go through that,” one student said.
When a student asked Trujillo how the state’s budget will address their security concerns, he responded that paying for security measures had become a top state priority.
“The budget is a reflection of priorities and priorities change,” he said. “There’s nothing more important than this.
Some students also met with state Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, where they impressed on her the need for teachers to be able to lock their classrooms from the inside.
“Teachers shouldn’t have to go on the outside to lock the door, because that takes so much time,” Melissa Camilo, 15, a freshman who said she was in the building when the shooting happened, told Politico. “Within those seconds, someone could get hurt.”
The students’ trip to Tallahassee was facilitated by Sen. Lauren Book of Broward County and former Florida Democratic Party chair Allison Tant, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
Book told Politico she personally paid for the buses and the students’ meals.