TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) – The grief reverberated across the country Sunday as Americans, including President Joe Biden, of a Florida ward remembered the 17 lives lost in the Parkland School massacre three years ago went.
“In a matter of seconds, the lives of dozens of families and the lives of an American community were forever changed,” Biden said in a statement released on Sunday.
The President took the opportunity to urge Congress to strengthen gun laws, including calling for background checks on all gun sales and banning offensive weapons.
There was no time to wait, said the President. “We owe it to everyone we have lost and everyone left behind to grieve in order to change something. The time to act is now. “
Governor Ron DeSantis ordered that flags be lowered to half the staff across the state from sunrise to sunset in honor of those who died as a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas with an AR-15 rifle on Valentine’s Day 2018 opened fire on campus.
When the shooting stopped, 14 students and three staff were dead and 17 others were wounded. The suspect Nikolas Cruz is still waiting for the trial.
In his proclamation for a Day of Remembrance, DeSantis asked other Floridians to take a break on Sunday at 3 p.m.
“The Parkland community is resilient after the tragedy and reminds us of how strong and united the Floridians can be in the face of such a devastating loss,” said the governor in his proclamation.
The Republican governor also noted some of the school security measures in place since the tragedy three years ago, including spending money on installing panic warning systems in schools across the state and strengthening programs to prevent violence before it occurs.
The panic alert measure was named “Alyssa’s Law” in honor of 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, one of the students killed three years ago.
However, critics say the governor and the Republican-controlled legislature did little to keep guns away from potentially bad actors and spoke out against banning assault-style guns.
It remains to be seen what will be done at the federal level despite the democratic control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.
“This government will not wait for the next mass shootings to respond to this call. We will take action to end our gun violence epidemic and make our schools and communities safer, ”the president said in his statement on Sunday.
In addition to background checks and a ban on assault weapons, Biden is calling on Congress to ban high-performance magazines and hold gun manufacturers responsible for the role of their products in violence.
“Parkland families have been spending birthdays and holidays without loved ones for three years,” said Biden.
“Today, as we mourn with the Parkland community, we mourn all those who lost loved ones to gun violence,” he said.
“In these three years the Parkland families have taught us all something profound,” the president continued. “Time and again, they have shown us how to turn our grief into purpose – march, organize, and build a strong, inclusive, and lasting movement for change.”
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