FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – To a cheering crowd of high school and college kids, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School arrived in Tallahassee, ready to lay it on the line with state lawmakers.
“Everybody here from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the Never Again movement, the March For Our Lives movement, we are here because of you guys, because everyone is supporting us,” said one of the students after getting off the bus Tuesday evening.
On Tuesday, the 100 survivors of the deadly shooting boarded buses bound for Tallahassee after attending a funeral for 16-year-old Carmen Schentrup.
Tyra Hemans is in pain and she joined the army of students taking their message demanding gun control to Tallahassee.
“You took my family away and you started a war,” said Hemans, a student a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Hemans says she needs to be strong for her friends like Meadow Pollack and Coach Aaron Feis who died in last week’s shooting.
“Meadow is with me because she knows I can’t do it alone. Meadow is with me. Coach Feis. Feis is always going to be with me,” said Hemans.
Hemans believes that continuing this conversation is what’s right and what her friends would want.
“We are done with this. We are done. We are tired of the crying. We are tired of the pain. We want justice,” said Hemans.
Stoneman Douglas junior Kai Koerber says he and others do not want to limit the rights of people to own guns. He believes weapons like the AR-15 assault rifle, used in the Parkland shooting, have no purpose other than to kill or maim.
“This is part of who we are now and we have a mission and a mandate to make sure that this never happens to anyone else,” said Koerber.
While students from Parkland are getting support from their peers, they’re facing some obstacles at the Capitol. The House already voted not to allow discussion on an assault weapons ban. On party line Republicans voted against allowing the debate. It happened right in front of a stunned students from Parkland who was there early to begin lobbying efforts.
“The next death of someone with an assault rifle here in Florida is going to be on them. It’s going to be on them and it’s going to be their fault those people are dead,” said the student.
Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano has a proposal in development. It calls for the possibility of raising the age to 21 to buy an assault rifle, a ban on bump stocks – that’s the device used in the Las Vegas shooting to allow faster fire – implementing a 3-day waiting period for gun purchases and to close screening loop holes especially relating to mental illness.
On Wednesday the students will meet with Senators and House members on both sides of the aisle, as well as Attorney General Pam Bondi and hold a press conference to share their experiences and messages.
“We are the future, we are the ones who are going to make the change, if Congress or the state doesn’t want to do anything, you know what we are going to do it,” said Alex Wind.
“Sending students up within one week of this tragedy is a great symbolism demonstrating that this movement is happening, it’s happening quickly,” said Jaclyn Corin.
Corin said they’re spreading out at the Capitol, pushing their message – realizing that as painful as it is to grieve their loss while fighting for change, they have a captive worldwide audience.
Locked in a meeting with Governor Rick Scott tomorrow
— Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin) February 20, 2018
In Tallahassee, volunteers assembled snack bags for the incoming students as a show of support for their cause.
Amy Kirkpatrick said an online sign up for donations began circulating over the weekend and it filled up rather quickly.
“I went to sign up last night and as I was signing up, the category I was signing up for got full,” she said.
Nine-year-old Ava Gerson, one of the youngest volunteers, recognized the pain caused by last week’s shooting.
“It’s kind of like when you watch a scary movie and it makes you scared for a few more days. It’s kind of like that. When something like that happens, you get scared. Like what’s going to happen to my future,” she said.
The trip to Tallahassee was planned by the students. Local organizations say they are there to support them.
“These young voices, we’re just standing back and letting them tell their story because it’s impactful and it’s important,” said Beth Dumond with Moms Demand Action.
Sadly, there is a brotherhood of mass shooting survivors. Several women who survived the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 brought letters from victims of the Las Vegas massacre. The women came to comfort those affected by the Parkland shooting.
“We come here to show love and tell them, you know what, it’s going to be ok,” said India Godman.
Students know this fight to change gun laws will be a long one. They say they’re motivated and ready to make their voices heard here and at the ballot box.
“At this point if those legislators aren’t with us, they’re against us,” said student Chris Grady. “And they’re ok with seeing innocent children killed and we’re going to be voting them out. It’s as simple as that.”
Their movement faces an uphill battle. State Senator Gary Farmer (D-Fort Lauderdale) said there are bills that he sponsored two years ago to ban assault weapons, limit where guns can be carried in this state and increase background checks. But those bills have never even received a hearing.
In South Florida, more and more students are joining the “Never Again” movement” started by Stoneman Douglas students.
“I just want peace and I just want an end to violence. I don’t want any more innocent kids dying,” said student Nia Jean.
The Never Again movement burst onto the scene Saturday at a huge rally in Fort Lauderdale. Now, they’re all over social media and growing by the minute. They want stricter gun laws and politicians to stop taking money from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“When you’re a politician that’s more willing to get money for your reelection than save children’s lives, you have to question what is the state of American politics and why are we letting these disgusting monsters in, why are we re-electing them,” said David Hogg who is with the Never Again movement.
The students plan to stage a ‘March For Our Lives’ rally in Washington D.C. next month. The march has already attracted some A-list attention.
“Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School.
Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating 500,000 dollars to help pay for this groundbreaking event. Our children’s lives depend on it.”