Gun violence, school safety discussed at Coral Springs, Miami Gardens forums

CORAL SPRINGS, FLA. (WSVN) - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students still reeling from the Feb. 14 mass shooting made their voices heard at two local forums hosted by public officials, Thursday.

More than 1,000 students gathered at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts to take part in a teen political forum.

Students from Coral Springs and Parkland did not hold back when calling for accountability from local leaders.

“Stoneman Douglas was promised metal detectors, but instead received clear backpacks due to laziness in the system,” said a student.

Another student said she still doesn’t feel safe at the Parkland school. “As a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I still have a year left,” she said.

The annual event took a different tone in light of the massacre that claimed 17 lives.

Although the students come from rival high-schools, they are all MSD strong.

“I’m a survivor, I am an activist, and I am 17 years old,” said a student.

Leaders from the City of Coral Springs and Broward County were put in the hot seat, as they fielded a wide variety questions.

“As a veteran, how do you feel about arming veterans in schools?” a student asked one of the panelists.

Some city officials on hand at the forum even promised to sue the state in order to give local governments the power to enact stricter gun laws.

“We’re filing suit just next week,” said Coral Springs Commissioner Dan Daley.

“I don’t think anyone has a problem with raising the age to 21 to get a gun, universal background checks, trying to put in place digitized records, so that when they are doing a background check, they have a place where they can look at the records,” said Broward Commissioner Michael Udine as audience members clapped.

Many questioned how local leaders are improving school safety.

Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor Cameron Kasky received a warm round of applause when he held up a clear backpack.

“We need to vote. We need to look up the people we’re voting for. We need to actually show up to the polls,” said Kasky.

Gun control was also a hot topic at a town hall held in Miami Gardens.

The event, hosted by U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., also tackled gun violence and school safety. More specifically, assault rifles and mental health services where a major topic of discussion.

While there are no easy solutions for many of these students’ questions, Thursday offered a glimmer of hope at Stoneman Douglas, as survivor Anthony Borges returned to campus one day after he was released from the hospital.

Borges was hailed a hero after he used his body to shield classmates from the bullets.

While he continues his road to recovery, other students reiterated their call for change.

“We are smart, we are woke and we are awesome,” said Kasky, “so let’s create a new generation of elected officials who are smart and woke and awesome.”

As part of the Coral Springs forum, the school with the highest attendance receives a cash prize. That distinction went to Coral Springs Charter School this year.

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