Trump’s Visit to Parkland Only Added Insult to Injury

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On Valentine’s Day, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz pulled the fire alarm of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and fired his AR-15 rifle as students and faculty fled into the halls. Seventeen people died at the Parkland, Florida high school in the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012.


On February 15, The Washington Post reported that President Trump planned to visit the school “to offer consolation to family members and help coordinate the federal and local response.” Trump visited Broward Health North Hospital and the Broward County Sheriff’s Department to pose for pictures with victims and thank first responders, only adding insult to injury.


You’ll forgive me for being skeptical. In April 2017, Trump addressed the annual National Rifle Association (NRA), “You came through big for me, and I am going to come through for you.” This man then “consoled”—however ineffectively—the victims of a tragedy that he and his fellow Republicans enabled. Samantha Fuentes, a senior who survived the shooting, told CNN, “I can’t say that I was consoled or helped” by a phone call from Mr. Trump during her hospital stay.


I can only hope Mr. Trump sits comfortably on Air Force One, with the NRA tucked so deeply in his back pocket.


Following the massacre, lawmakers took to Twitter with thoughts and prayers. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted, “Today is that terrible day you pray never comes,” while sitting on over three million dollars in donations from the NRA. John McCain (R-AZ) wrote, “Cindy & I are praying for all those impacted by the senseless shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.” The NRA has donated over seven million dollars to McCain, more than they’ve given any other senator. But at least he’s praying.


Thoughts and prayers are insulting, coming from politicians who are elected by an organization that exists to oppose gun control. Those who don’t take action against school shootings are trying to protect their reputations, but they don’t have me fooled. Their prayers don’t vindicate their inaction. NRA-endorsed Republicans need to stop saving face and start saving lives. Until our government is no longer dominated by NRA puppets, school shootings will continue.


Teenage survivors of the Parkland shooting took to Tallahassee to protest and meet with politicians. So far, they’ve convinced Senator Rubio and President Trump to outlaw the purchase of assault rifles by anyone under 21. Rubio is even considering restricting high-capacity magazines, and Trump has gone so far as to propose a ban on bump stocks, which were crucial in the Las Vegas massacre last October.


Students are the ones making real change. In response to critics who’ve called him disrespectful, Douglas senior David Hogg said, “When these politicians kill our friends, why are we expected to play nice? Obviously it’s due to their inaction; that’s what we’re aiming at.”

Congressmen and women: If you have power to effect legislative change, I don’t want your thoughts and prayers. I want your action.


To our president: you shouldn’t have wasted your breath in Parkland. Stop consoling students you didn’t even try to protect.


And finally, to the students who’ve used Parkland as a catalyst for change: Thank you for fighting back.