Following a school shooting in Florida on Wednesday that left at least 17 people dead, Donald Trump offered his "prayers and condolences" to the families of shooting victims. But one student who survived slammed Trump for his condolences during the Florida shooting, demanding gun control instead.
Sarah, a self-identified student at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, tweeted that she did not want Trump's condolences after her "friends and teachers were shot."
"Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead," Sarah wrote in a tweet that went viral before she locked her account. "Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won't fix this. But gun control will prevent it from happening again."
In an earlier tweet, Sarah described Wednesday as "the worst day of my life," and she was not the only student at the school who took to Twitter after the shooting. Many other students turned to social media to talk about their experiences after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire on their school. Some shared screenshots of text messages they wished they didn't have to send, while others shared heartbreaking stories of teachers who had risked their lives.
According to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, Wednesday's shooting in Florida was one of at least 239 school shootings that have taken place in the U.S. since 2014, when the organization began. Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, a gun control advocacy organization, reported that there had already been 17 school shootings this year alone prior to the shooting in Florida.
Sarah is certainly not the only person calling for better gun control legislation following the shooting. Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy criticized "this epidemic of mass slaughter" in a speech to his colleagues on the Senate floor on Wednesday evening.
"This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America," said Murphy, who was sworn in as a senator just after the Sandy Hook shooting. "It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction."
Ever since tragedy struck Newtown in December 2012, Murphy has been a leading voice in the fight for gun control. In 2016, after a shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando killed 49 people, Murphy held a nearly 15-hour filibuster on the Senate floor to protest lawmakers' inaction on the matter.
It is precisely this inaction that Sarah criticized in her tweet. Ever since Trump took office, he and his fellow Republicans have actually attempted to loosen existing gun control laws.
According to Newsweek, Florida already has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the U.S. The state's firearm statute indicates that people in Florida do not require a license to purchase a gun, nor is firearm registration a state requirement. Owning a semi-automatic assault rifle is legal in Florida; it is one of the only gun purchases that requires background checks, as most do not.
Despite widespread backlash against Florida's lax gun laws, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio argued that a gun control law may not have prevented Wednesday's shooting. He warned people not to "jump to conclusions," and said that it was inappropriate for his fellow Senators to call for improved gun control legislation in the shooting's immediate aftermath. But his response — and his tweet that Wednesday was "that terrible day you pray never comes" — was met with outrage as social media users pointed out that he has accepted millions of dollars from the NRA during his career.
One teacher at the school in Florida told CNN's Anderson Cooper that although recent fire and active shooter drills helped the school save more lives during the shooting, the government should have taken more steps to prevent yet another school shooting from taking place.
Melissa Falkowski told Cooper:
We did everything that we were supposed to do. Broward County Schools has prepared us for this situation and still to have so many casualties, at least for me, it's very emotional. Because I feel today like our government, our country has failed us and failed our kids and didn't keep us safe.
Editor's note: This post has been updated.