Protesters and survivors from two of Florida’s deadliest mass shootings have staged a rally calling for tougher gun regulations to mark the second anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre.
Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the 12 June 2016 shooting in which a gunman stormed the LGBT venue and killed 49 people, delivered a speech critical of Florida Governor Rick Scott’s controversial actions against gun violence which have included signing a measure that allows schools to arm employees with firearms.
“Two years ago, I was washing my hands in a bathroom sink when I heard an assault rifle fire 45 rounds in one minute,” Mr Wolf told the crowd of hundreds on Monday. “I learned those rounds killed 13 of my best friends...But the real crime here is that my story isn’t unique anymore: We live in an America where our leaders would rather beg for money from the NRA [National Rifle Association] than do something to protect our children.”
Mr Wolf told The Independent that people concerned about recent gun violence in America should “make their voices heard in November” during midterm elections
“Register, vote, drag a friend, speak out and send a clear message that politicians work for us,” he said, “not the other way around.”
Mr Wolf was joined by student activists and survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida where 17 people were killed in a shooting on Valentine’s Day. Aly Sheehy, a recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas graduate, demanded swift legislative action on gun control.
“Not even four months ago, I found myself on the floor huddled with my classmates not knowing if we were going to die,” she said. “I am tired of meaningless tweets and empty words of promise by our politicians. I fight because I am tired of being told I am too young to understand. … I am now 18, and come November I am going to fight for the future that our friends don’t have anymore. I am going to fight for the people who don’t have a future anymore. To the politicians, I hope you hear our screams now because they’re only growing louder.”
The attacks on Pulse nightclub and Marjory Stoneman Douglas mark two of the biggest mass shootings in US history, with the Parkland tragedy leading to a fresh national conversation on the issue of gun control. Governor Scott signed a series of measures in the wake of that shooting, raising the legal minimum age required to purchase rifles, permitting schools to arm employees and imposing a three-day waiting period on all gun sales.
The demonstration was held at City Hall Plaza, ahead of Tuesday’s day of events honoring the 49 victims and 59 people injured in the attack. Governor Scott has also proclaimed 12 June ‘Pulse Remembrance Day’.