A Florida shooting survivor, wiping away tears and spitting fire, laid the blame for the mass murder in her high school directly on President Trump, Congress and the gun lobby.
Emma Gonzalez brought a crowd of thousands to a full-throated roar Saturday with a fiery speech just three days after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!” the senior said to thunderous reaction in Fort Lauderdale.
“Shame on you!” the anti-gun protesters chanted. “Shame on you!”
“The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us,” the teen continued, her voice rising. “Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats, telling us that nothing could have ever been done to prevent this.
“We call B.S.!”
The refrain was used several times as Gonzalez recited a litany of reasons offered by the National Rifle Association and others for their opposition to gun laws.
“They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence,” she said. “We call B.S.! They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call B.S.!
“They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call B.S.!”
Gonzalez, in her riveting address, read Trump’s tweet about shooter Nikolas Cruz’s mental problems — and offered a biting response.
“We should pay attention to the fact that this isn’t just a mental health issue,” Gonzalez declared. “He wouldn’t have hurt as many students with a knife . . . How about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter’s fault?”
Activists call for tighter gun control laws during rally in Fort Lauderdale
Gonzalez then called out the President by name, criticizing him for an ineffectual response to the latest carnage and for repealing legislation last year to keep guns away from the mentally ill.
“If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy, and how it never should have happened . . . I’m going to happily asked him how much money he received from the NRA,” she declared.
The advocacy group spent more than $ 30 million in 2016 to help Trump win the White House.
The student also took a shot at Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for his support of last year’s presidential rollback on background checks. Grassley is the recipient of $ 232,337 in NRA money.
Emails for responses from the White House, Grassley and the NRA were not returned Saturday.
Trump appeared unmoved by Gonzalez’s impassioned speech. He sent out a late-night, shockingly tone-deaf tweet conflating the FBI’s failure to act on warnings about the school shooter with the probe into Russian election meddling.
“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter,” he wrote.
“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!”
The rally was the biggest event on a day of outrage across Florida, where the massacre leading to the arrest of an expelled student with a daunting history of problems left many in shock and disbelief.
Scores of Gonzalez’s classmates joined her in Fort Lauderdale, while others gathered at the victims’ memorial in Parkland, Fla., home of the high school.
Ashley Paseltiner, 16, a junior who lost two friends in the massacre, angrily dismissed the now-standard offer of “thoughts and prayers” in support of the students both living and dead.
“I don’t want to hear it,” she said. “I want action. There is no need for a teen to have a gun. It’s disgusting. It’s a shame. We should not be bringing flowers for our dead friends.”
Sophomore Ethan Kauffman, 15, joined Ashley in leaving flowers at two of the 17 white wooden crosses placed inside the Pine Trails Park to honor the victims.
Teddy bears, photographs and written remembrances offered mute testimony to the young lives erased in the senseless rampage — including the students’ friends Jamie Guttenberg and Meadow Pollack.
“Something has to change,” said Ethan. “It’s appreciated, but the thoughts and prayers only go so far. We need change.”
Other students recounted their near-death experiences as the shooter went between classrooms firing his AR-15 rifle.
Junior Sidney Fisher, 17, hugged friends while recalling how he barely escaped the massacre during his Holocaust history class.
“I was in the second classroom he shot into,” said Fisher. “Basically we hear six to 10 loud bangs outside our classroom. Everyone went straight to the corner.
“We had no time to react. He started shooting into our room. Two people got caught in the crossfire.”
Fisher said the sight of his dead classmates during 15 terrifying seconds of gunfire will stay with him forever.
“I was trying to keep everyone around me quiet,” he said. “It wasn’t easy to keep everyone quiet when (people) are dying around you.”
Few of those angered by the school slaughter remained silent Saturday. The critics even took to the skies above sunny Florida to voice their displeasure.
“Shame on you Marco Rubio & NRA,” read a banner trailing a plane flying over Miami Beach.
Sen. Rubio, the Florida Republican, has taken more than $ 3.3 million in NRA contributions — and said after the Parkland shooting that individuals abusing their right to bear arms were to blame for the shootings.
And one day earlier, a fifth-grade teacher from Key Biscayne ambushed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) during a Ritz Hotel fund-raiser Friday.
“You’re here celebrating the death of 17 children,” she told Ryan after shaking his hand and introducing herself. “No more guns!”
Gonzalez was sitting in the school auditorium when the gunfire started, and she initially thought it was a drill. With the reality now impossible to deny, she urged to crowd to help reshape America’s destiny.
“We will be the last mass shooting,” the teen declared. “We are going to change the laws.”