Almost a year after two teenagers murdered 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in 1999, then President Bill Clinton visited the Colorado town and reiterated his call for greater gun control.
”I don’t want any future president to have to go to Columbine or to Springfield, Oregon, or to Jonesboro, Arkansas., or to any of the other places I have been,” Mr Clinton said, rattling off some of the sites of recent shootings.
”It is tough enough to comfort the families of our servicemen and women who die in the line of duty. Children have no duties, except to their studies and their families. Our duty is to protect their lives, and give them futures.”
Almost 20 years after the horrific attack, there have been three different presidents – and three school shootings that have proved even deadlier, including the latest atrocity at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
By one estimate, more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the massacre in Colorado. By the time the latest gun attack took place on Wednesday, there had been a school shooting every 60 hours in the US.
Today’s high school students were not even born when Columbine took place. They have grown up in an era of active-shooter drills, some have seen metal detectors introduced to keep out guns and bullet-proof backpacks are now available to buy.
What hasn’t changed much are the gun laws and the survivors of the latest tragedy have had enough.
"To every politician taking donations from the NRA (National Rifle Association), shame on you!" declared Emma Gonzalez, an 18-year-old student who delivered a fiery address to a crowd of students, parents and residents in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday.
"They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS!" Florida high school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez calls on President Trump and lawmakers to tighten gun restrictions in impassioned speech at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale https://t.co/DgnqrrVs9x
— CNN (@CNN) February 17, 2018
She attacked Donald Trump over the multi-million-dollar support his campaign received from the gun lobby, drawing chants of "shame on you" from the crowd.
She also criticised him for overturning a measure implemented by former President Barack Obama that required extra scrutiny of some gun buyers with a history of mental illness.
"Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this, we call B.S." Gonzalez said.
"We are going to be the last mass shooting… We are going to change the law," she vowed, slamming the fact 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz was able to legally buy a semi-automatic firearm despite a history of troubling and violent behaviour.
Miss Gonzalez is among a number of survivors who have pleaded for gun control, calling out the US president who has said little about the subject.
Instead of saying what he planned to do about gun control, he pointed the finger of blame on Saturday at Democrats and the FBI – who he claimed were too busy investigating his campaign’s links with Russia.
Just like they don’t want to solve the DACA problem, why didn’t the Democrats pass gun control legislation when they had both the House & Senate during the Obama Administration. Because they didn’t want to, and now they just talk!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2018
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
In his first spoken comments on the shooting on Thursday, the president had said it was too early to discuss the issue.
It was not too soon for one student, who spoke to student journalist David Hogg while hiding in a closet at a school on Wednesday afternoon as the horror was unfolding outside.
“I personally have rallied for gun rights … but this experience has changed my viewpoint,” she said. "This experience was so traumatising to the point where now I can’t even fathom the idea of a gun in my house or on my bodice.”
Fox News pundit Tomi Lahren was among a number of conservatives, including Mr Trump, who tried to deflect the blame away from the guns and onto the culprit instead, calling it the actions of a "lunatic".
Maybe I would feel safe if there was gun control??? 2+2=7 https://t.co/5qC2YY7SKO
— carly (@car_nove) February 14, 2018
Carly Novell’s tweeted response went viral. “I was hiding in a closet for two hours. It was about guns. You weren’t there, you don’t know how it felt,” she said. “Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns.”
Another student, Kyra, echoed the sentiment. “A gun has killed 17 of my fellow classmates. A gun has traumatised my friends. My entire school, traumatised from this tragedy. This could have been prevented. Please stfu [shut the f*** up] tomi.”
it is actually about guns u witch from hell https://t.co/mva3qYu0Tc
— nikki (@nikta04) February 15, 2018
In an interview with CNN, Mr Hogg directed his message to the politicians. ‘‘Please, take action. Ideas are great. Ideas are wonderful and they help you get reelected and everything,’’ he said, looking straight into the camera. ‘‘But what’s more important is actual action, and pertinent action, that results in saving thousands of children’s lives. Please, take action.’’
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At the rally in downtown Fort Lauderdale, thousands of angry students, parents, and teachers of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School demanded immediate action be taken on gun-control legislation, insisting they would not relent until their demands were met.
"Because of these gun laws, people that I know, people that I love, have died, and I will never be able to see them again," Delaney Tarr, a student at the school, told the crowd swamping the steps and courtyard at the federal courthouse.
The crowd chanted: "Vote them out!" and held signs calling for action. Some read: "£Never Again," "£Do something now" and "Don’t Let My Friends Die."
At a vigil on Thursday for the victims, a crowd of more than 1,000 people, consisting largely of students, chanted, "No more guns! No more guns!"
@realDonaldTrump hello I’m the 16 year old girl who tweeted you that I didn’t want your condolences, I wanted gun control, and went viral because of it. I heard you are coming to my community soon. I would love for you to hear my opinions on gun control in person.
– a survivor
— sarah // #NEVERAGAIN (@sarahchad_) February 16, 2018
A weeping 19-year-old Tyra Hemans held posters of her dead friends, along with one that said "ENOUGH NO GUNS £GunReformNow."
"I decided to make these signs so that when Donald Trump visits Parkland he knows that this is what I want. I want Congress to understand he took 17 lives from me yesterday. My friend will literally never get to say ‘I graduated high school,’" she said through tears.
When Mr Trump visited Florida on Friday, he went to the hospital to meet two survivors and later met with first responders. The issue of gun control was never raised.
Students elsewhere have started joining the chorus from Parkland. On Friday, about 100 students from South Broward High School walked out of school to protest gun violence, carrying signs that said "Do Something" and "Protect our Kids, Not Your Guns."
"We are angry! We are angry!" the students cried. "We want safety! We want safety!"
And a National Walk Out is planned for the Columbine anniversary on April 20.
Holding the $600 gun he was about to bu, Vallone voiced a familiar argument. "This does nothing by itself. This takes a human being to take the rifle, point it and shoot someone," Vallone said.
"The focus on gun control is an error and it won’t stop someone determined to commit crimes."