‘Frozen in time.’ Kamala Harris tours blood-stained building where the 2018 Parkland massacre took place

(Terry Renna/Associated Press)

‘Frozen in time.’ Kamala Harris tours blood-stained building where the 2018 Parkland massacre took place

Kamala Harris


March 23, 2024

Vice President Kamala Harris


the blood-stained classroom where the 2018 Parkland high school massacre took place,

then announced a program to help states that have laws that allow police to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous by judges. Harris saw walls and floors riddled with bullet holes still covered in dried blood and broken glass left by the Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which killed 14 students and three staff members and injured 17 people. The hallways and classrooms in the three-story building are still littered with shoes left behind by fleeing students and wilted Valentine’s Day flowers and balloons. School books, laptops, snacks and papers are left on desks. Harris was told about each victim who died. Frozen in time, Harris said repeatedly during the tour. She was accompanied by relatives of the victims, some of whom pushed for more spending on school safety and others for stricter gun laws. Harris, who heads the new White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, said there are lessons to be learned from Parkland, both in stopping school shootings before they happen and in mitigating them with measures such as ensuring the doors are closed. of classrooms not being locked from the outside, as she did at Stoneman Douglas. She pointed out that shootings are a leading cause of death for children and teens. We have to be willing to have the courage to say that at every level, whether you’re talking about changing laws or changing practices and protocols, we have to do better, Harris said. By Stoneman Douglas, born

Former student Nikolas Cruz, then 19, fired about 140 shots from his AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle during his six-minute attack

moving methodically from the first floor, through the second and to the third.

He pleaded guilty in 2021.


was convicted

life in prison in 2022 after his jury did not unanimously agree he deserved a death sentence, angering the victims’ families. The building was preserved so that his jury could tour it. Since the school reopened two weeks after the shooting, it has loomed over the school of 3,600 students from behind a temporary fence. It is planned to be demolished this summer. No replacement plan has been announced. After the Harris tour, she announced a $750 million grant program to provide technical assistance and training to Florida and the other 20 states that have similar red flag laws.

Florida law allows this


officers, with court approval, to temporarily seize weapons belonging to someone who has been shown to pose a danger to others or themselves. The statute has been used more than 12,000 times since it was enacted six years ago in response to the Parkland shooting.

Harris also called on both Congress and states without red flag laws to pass them. The Biden administration has called for a national red flag law.

Cruz had a long history of problems and bizarre behavior, including animal torture. In the weeks before the shooting, he had been reported to local police and the FBI by people who feared he was planning a mass shooting, but no action was taken. He legally bought 10 guns in the 17 months between his 18th birthday and the massacre.

Red flag laws are simply intended to give communities a means to share information about concerns about potential danger or calls for help, Harris said.

Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican who signed the Florida law as governor in 2018 shortly after the Parkland shooting, released a statement Saturday calling the Biden administration’s proposed national red flag law radical, “saying that this would be modeled after California’s law and would require gun owners to strip of weapons’. California’s law is broader than Florida’s in that family members, employers and others can initiate the process, but removal must also be approved by a judge.

California law omits due process to more quickly and easily take away constitutional rights from law-abiding Americans. That’s unacceptable, Scott said. Harris’ tour was the latest among elected officials and leaders of law enforcement and educational institutions in recent months.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona toured the building in January and several members of Congress, mostly Democrats, have toured it since law enforcement returned custody of the building to the school district last summer.

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle visited the building in recent days. It’s important to walk these people through the building so they can not only see the horror that still exists there, but so we can point out the exact things that went wrong, said Tony Montalto, president of Stand With Parkland, the group which represents most of the victims’ families. His 14-year-old daughter Gina was killed in the shooting.

Some Stoneman Douglas families participating in the tours want the sale of AR-15s and similar weapons to be banned, as was the case between 1994 and 2004.

just like Harris and President Biden,

but there is not enough support in Congress. Opponents, including the families of other victims, argue that such a ban would violate the law


Change and do little to combat gun violence.

Linda Beigel Schulman said the tour

showed will show

Harris, the carnage that causes a mass shooting will no longer be an abstract concept. Beigel Schulman’s 35-year-old son, geography teacher Scott Beigel, was killed while helping students in his classroom to safety. The papers he was grading when the shooting started were left on his desk.

“She understands how important gun violence prevention is to us,” Beigel Schulman said of the vice president. But when you go into the building itself and see what really happened, it doesn’t matter that it’s six years later. something for you.

Max Schachter, whose son Alex was killed in the shooting, is using the tours to convince officials to take school safety measures such as making doors and windows bulletproof. Alex, 14, died from shots fired through his classroom door window.

Schachter said that while there is disagreement over gun laws, school safety brings the parties together. In particular, he pointed to a fall visit by officials in Utah that led to that state implementing a $100 million plan to harden its schools.

“I couldn’t save Alex, but every time officials come through that building, lives are saved,” Schachter said.

Spencer writes for the Associated Press.


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