Politics

Kamala Harris visits Parkland, urges states to pass red flag gun laws

Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday visited the still bloody and bullet-riddled classroom in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 14 students and three staff members in 2018, using the grim backdrop to announce the creation of a new federal resource center and call for stricter enforcement of gun laws.

The freshmen building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been preserved as evidence for the criminal trials and is scheduled to be demolished this summer. For now, it remains a memorial to one of the most shocking mass shootings in U.S. history.

In her remarks after visiting and meeting for more than an hour with family members of the attack victims, Harris said the experience had been fascinating.

“Thanks to the courage and call to action of these families, let us find within ourselves the strength to consider what they experienced as a certain level of motivation and inspiration for us all,” she said. declared.

“This school will soon be demolished,” added the vice-president. “But the memory will never be erased.”

Harris said the attack, perpetrated by a former student with a history of mental health and behavioral problems, should prompt officials across the country to enact local whistleblowing laws. These allow courts to temporarily seize firearms and other dangerous weapons when they believe a person may pose a threat to themselves or others. The Parkland shooter purchased his gun legally.

In her speech, Harris announced the creation of the National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center, which White House officials said would provide training and technical assistance to states as they strive to implement their laws of alarm.

“Alert laws are simply designed to allow communities to have a vehicle through which they can share, and have a place to share, information about their concerns about potential danger or about calling for help. help from an individual,” she said.

In her brief remarks, Harris said only 21 states have passed red flag laws and only six of them have accepted the Biden administration's offer of financial resources to help implement them. artwork.

“I challenge others: ‘Come. We have some resources to help you implement the work you’ve done,” she said.

Ms. Harris' visit to the school is part of a broader effort by the administration to strengthen gun control measures, as the United States continues to experience regular episodes of devastating gun violence, sometimes targeting young people in schools.

In 2022, President Biden signed into law the first significant federal gun control measure in decades. The law expanded the background check system for potential gun buyers under 21, gave authorities up to 10 business days to review juvenile and mental health records and set aside millions of dollars for states to fund intervention programs.

But since then, the shootings have continued at an appalling pace. Dozens killed in mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine; Monterey Park, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Hollywood, Florida; and in many other cities across the country.

Ms Harris said this needed to change. But she expressed determination to continue fighting political gridlock in Washington, where Republicans and some Democrats on Capitol Hill have long blocked more aggressive measures, such as banning assault weapons that are often used in shootings. the deadliest mass attacks.

“I will continue to campaign,” she said. “Well, what we need to do in terms of universal background checks, banning assault weapons, what we need to continue to do to address and diagnose and treat trauma in our communities.”

Journalists were not allowed to join Ms. Harris as she toured the classroom where the attacks took place, nor were they allowed to hear her conversations with families.

Previous descriptions The building included bloodstains from the victims still on the walls, broken glass from the bullets on the floor, and books, paper and other school supplies scattered as they were on that dark day.

Jurors in the trial of Nikolas Cruz, the convicted shooter, visited the building in the summer of 2022 as they deliberated his sentence. (He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.)

The school district later announced it would demolish the building.

“Broward County Public Schools made this decision in consultation with health and safety experts, and out of concern for the well-being of students and staff on campus,” officials said in a statement at the time . “As we continue to heal, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community. »

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