It’s been over a week since Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people with his AR-15, and the Parkland survivors have been loud and clear in their message: #NeverAgain.
They want the government to put an emphasis on school safety and stricter background checks for gun buyers. They’ve also scheduled a protest for March 24 they’re calling, “March For Our Lives.”
In the wake of this tragedy felt across the nation, President Trump spoke with Parkland survivors over the phone, visited some of them in the hospital and organized a “listening session” about gun violence.
Our entire Nation, w/one heavy heart, continues to pray for the victims & their families in Parkland, FL. To teachers, law enforcement, first responders & medical professionals who responded so bravely in the face of danger: We THANK YOU for your courage! https://t.co/3yJsrebZMG pic.twitter.com/ti791dENTy
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2018
Parkland survivors have spoken out about how Trump has handled these situations and how he’s addressed their call for change. Here is some of what they’ve had to say.
Fuentes, who was shot in both legs and was left with a piece of shrapnel behind her right eye, got a phone call from Trump while she was still in the hospital.
“He said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours too.’ I’m pretty sure he made that up,” she detailed to The New York Times.
“Talking to the president, I’ve never been so unimpressed by a person in my life,” Fuentes continued. “He didn’t make me feel better in the slightest.”
— DeborahNorville (@DeborahNorville) February 21, 2018
Wind, another Parkland survivor, condemned Trump for not accepting the invitation to Wednesday night’s town hall moderated by Jake Tapper.
“If Donald Trump wants to listen to us, he should have taken the first invitation,” he told CNN. “We are not going to come to him. He is going to need to come to us.”
When asked in a separate interview if the president’s call to strengthen federal background checks gives Wind hope that he “is listening,” the student responded, “I know he’s listening, and the fact that he said that does give me hope. However, I want to see action, I don’t want to see talk.”
“A 19-year-old who can’t purchase an alcoholic beverage should not be allowed to purchase an AR-15, a weapon of war, a weapon of destruction. It’s absolutely absurd.” Florida school shooting survivor Alex Wind calls for gun reform https://t.co/f50XLXGvs1
— CNN (@CNN) February 20, 2018
“President Trump, you control the House of Representatives,” he said. “You control the Senate and you control the executive. You haven’t taken a single bill for mental health care or gun control and passed it. And that’s pathetic. We’ve seen a government shutdown. We’ve seen tax reform but nothing to save our children’s lives. Are you kidding me? You think now is the time to focus on the past and not the future to prevent the death of thousands of other children? You sicken me.”
Student David Hogg who survived the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting has a message for President Trump: “We’ve seen a government shutdown. Tax reform. But nothing to save our children’s lives. Are you kidding me?… You sicken me.” (edited) pic.twitter.com/UZBXePaoSi
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 18, 2018
Gonzalez, whose powerful speech at an anti-gun rally went viral, also spoke to Trump casting blame on the FBI.
“I do want to reiterate that the FBI were some of the amazing first responders who were helping us get to safety,” she told CNN, “and the fact that he wants to discredit them in any way and that he’s trying to shift our focus onto them is — it’s not acceptable.”
Emma Gonzalez on Trump’s tweet condemning the FBI: “The FBI were some of the amazing first responders who were helping us get to safety and the fact that he wants to discredit them in any way… it’s not acceptable” pic.twitter.com/NVFQQK9kDK
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) February 19, 2018
Zeif was one of the Parkland survivors at the listening session this week where Trump received some backlash for what was written on his cue cards.
“I didn’t really learn much today,” Zeif told MSNBC. “I kind of expected what we were given. The president did his thing, played his game. He had his questions already ready — he already had it written that he hears us — that was kind of something. … I was kind of starting to get on his side a little bit.”
But Zeif, who has addressed gun reform head-on, continued, “I did a lot of speaking about the AR and assault weapons, and he said nothing.”
Zeif told MSNBC in a separate interview that he doesn’t think he was “felt” by Trump but asserted that he’s confident in the impact he and his fellow survivors have made so far.
Stoneman Douglas student shooting survivor Sam Zeif was asked if he felt like he was heard at the White House. He answered, “I know I was heard because I saw it on Trump’s little card.” https://t.co/jHtRqgyAk5 #parkland pic.twitter.com/WC2HsQCu2X
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) February 22, 2018
When asked if they’re ready for the fight for change to come, Zeif responded, “Honestly? Yeah, we are gonna win this fight.”