Parents of Parkland shooting victims call for gun safety legislation

PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) - Grieving parents returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to ask for action from Florida lawmakers on gun safety.

Parents of students who were killed in the Feb. 14 spoke out on school grounds in support of Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s proposals to change the state’s gun laws, Monday afternoon.

Among them was Ilan Alhadeff, the father of shooting victim Alyssa Alhadeff. “My daughter was shot in the heart, in the spine, in the femur, in the femoral artery,” he said.

For these parents, the pain is still very real. “Part of us died that day,” said Alhadeff. “No parent should have to deal with this again.”

“No kid should have to say to their mother, ‘Am I going to die today if I go to school?'” said Lori Alhadeff, the teen’s mother.

Seventeen families have spent the past few weeks attending funeral after funeral and burying their children.

“Every day feels like a broken day in my house now because she is no longer with us,” said Fred Guttenberg, the father of shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg, as he held his daughter’s photo.

Speakers at the news conference called for state legislators to make common sense gun laws.

“There are 17 families who had a tragic loss,” said Guttenberg. “We all grieve in our own way, but I can tell you we are all standing here today. We are unified. We are together. We want to see common sense reforms.”

Monday evening, Florida senators voted in favor of a bill aimed at preventing another tragedy like the Parkland shooting.

Still, the Stoneman Douglas parents said they’re aware their fight is far from over. “I am tackling the issue of gun safety, but I’m tackling that beyond the walls of Tallahassee,” said Guttenberg.

It’s been nearly three weeks since the mass shooting, and just like the activism the students have created, the victims’ parents are following suit. That’s why they created the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Commission.

“Our goal is to create guidelines, best practices, so that this does not happen again,” said Max Schachter, the father of shooting victim Alex Schachter.

Twenty-five experts flew in from cities like Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles to speak at the commission’s first meeting, Monday morning.

They put together platforms that they hope Florida lawmakers can pass before their session ends. They include enhancing safety and security at school, keeping guns away from those who pose a risk to themselves or others and expanding mental health resources for at-risk youth.

Some of the commission’s priorities are addressed in the state Senate’s bill. These ideas were also discussed by Stoneman Douglas students at an early morning meeting hosted by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. D-Fla.

“Stoneman Douglas is a school full of leaders and aspiring activists, and we will not be silenced,” said student Meiling Hoshing.

Guttenberg and the other Stoneman Douglas parents believe Scott’s plan is a start, but for them, it doesn’t reach the finish line. “We accept the fact that it is right now the minimally acceptable effort that you can get passed in Florida; that’s just right now the way it is,” he said.

That’s why several of them will head to Washington, D.C. as early as Tuesday to meet with lawmakers on a national level. “I am tackling the issue of gun safety, but I’m tackling that beyond the walls of Tallahassee,” said Guttenberg.

These parents are dedicating their lives to the memories of their children and doing what they can to make communities across Florida and the country safer.

“We must be the last families to lose loved ones to mass murder in a school,” said Ryan Petty, the father of shooting victim Alaina Petty. “This time must be different.”

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