World

Students returning to Florida school after attack

MIAMI Students and teachers have returned to a Florida school for the first time since 17 people were shot dead there, consoling each other even as they called for swift action to address gun violence.

"Imagine (being) in a plane crash and then having to get on the same plane every day and fly somewhere else - it's never going to be the same," David Hogg, a survivor of the Feb 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, told ABC television's This Week.

The school held a voluntary "orientation" on Sunday, with teachers and staff returning yesterday and classes due to resume tomorrow - a prospect described as "daunting" and "scary," but which is also a step for survivors to move forward after the attack.

One teacher who had already been back told NPR radio that the shock of returning to a classroom left exactly as it had been during the carnage - notebooks still on desks, the calendar still set to Feb 14 - made her so physically ill she had to leave.

But Cameron Kasky, a student who survived the slaughter, tweeted a picture of people on campus, saying: "It is GOOD TO BE HOME."

"I have all my friends here with me and it just makes me feel like I'm not alone in this situation," student Michelle Dittmeier, who attended the orientation, told ABC.

The school also received support from alumni, with previous graduating classes making banners to decorate the school, WSVN TV news reported.

With ardent demands by students like Hogg for action, President Donald Trump has said he is open to raising the minimum age for gun purchases and to banning so-called bump stocks, which can effectively convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic firearms, but which were not used in the Parkland killings.

Speaking at the Governors' Ball ahead of meetings with the top officials from all 50 states on Monday, Mr Trump said: "I think we'll make that first on our list."

A new CNN poll, conducted a week after the Florida shooting, shows surging public support for stricter gun laws and for a ban on powerful semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 used in Parkland.

Overall, 70 per cent of those surveyed said they supported stricter gun laws, up from 52 per cent in October, and 57 percent favoured a ban on semi-automatic arms, an increase from 49 per cent.

The US has more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually. -AFP

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