Feb. 15 (UPI) — President Joe Biden marked the third anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., with a call for gun legislation on Sunday.
In a statement remembering the 17 people — 14 students and three staff — killed by a gunman in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting, Biden called on Congress to pass “commonsense gun law reforms,” including required background checks on all gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers that “knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”
“The Parkland students and so many other young people across the country who have experienced gun violence are carrying forward the history of the American journey. It is a history written by young people in each generation who challenged prevailing dogma to demand a simple truth: we can do better. And we will,” said Biden.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on Sunday and filed paperwork to create a “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Memorial Day” to be observed annually beginning on Feb. 14, 2022.
“Our state and nation will never forget February 14, 2018,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter. “We remember the 17 innocent lives that were lost on that tragic day. Their legacies will endure.”
Many of the student survivors and their families engaged in activism calling for gun reform following the shooting, spawning the national “March For Our Lives” movement.
In the months after the shooting Sen. Rick Scott, then the governor of Florida, signed $400 million of legislative reforms for school security, mental health and gun control. The legislation bans the use of bump stocks — devices that allow the rapid firing of certain firearms — increased the minimum rifle purchasing age from 18 and 21, and instituted a three-day waiting period on all firearm purchases.
Other states also passed similar legislation in the following months to expand background checks, ban bump stocks and limit magazines among other restrictions.
Family members of the victims, led by Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was killed in the shooting, created a series of “shame cards” to send to Congress in order to hold lawmakers to task for a lack of federal action on gun control since the shootings.
Gunman Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school, faces 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder for the shooting. His case was delayed in late December 2019 and has faced further delays in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.