US students plan protests, Washington march, to demand gun control
Stunned by one of the deadliest school shooting incidents in US history, students across the country on Sunday organised rallies and a national walkout in support of stronger gun laws, challenging politicians they say have failed to protect them.
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where a former student is accused of murdering 17 people last week using an assault-style rifle, joined others online to plan the events.
"I felt like it was our time to take a stand," said Lane Murdock, 15, of Connecticut. "We are the ones in these schools. We are the ones who are having shooters come into our classrooms and our spaces."
Lane, who lives 32km from Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 children and six adults were shot to death five years ago, drew more than 50,000 signatures on an online petition on Sunday calling on students to walk out of their high schools on April 20.
Instead of going to classes, she urged her fellow students to stage protests on the 19th anniversary of an earlier mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.
Students from Douglas are also planning a "March for Our Lives" in Washington on March 24.
Students from the Florida school have called out political leaders, including Republican President Donald Trump, for inaction on the issue.
Many criticised him for insensitivity after he said in a weekend Twitter post that the Federal Bureau of Investigation may have been too distracted with a Russia probe.
"You can't blame the bureaucracy for this when it is you, Mr President, who is overall responsible," Mr David Hogg, an 18-year-old Douglas senior, said in an interview.
Democratic leaders vowed to redouble efforts to fight the nation's powerful gun lobby.
"We are the adults. We are the leaders supposed to keep our children safe - and again, our country has let them down," Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez tweeted.- REUTERS