News World Florida shooting: Survivors rage at politicians’ ‘thoughts and prayers’ platitudes

Florida shooting: Survivors rage at politicians’ ‘thoughts and prayers’ platitudes

florida school shooting
Shaken parents try to contact students outside the high school. Photo: AAP
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Beware the American politician that offers “thoughts and prayers” after another mass shooting – the victims have had enough.

Young survivors of Thursday’s Florida school shooting that claimed 17 lives have torched politicians on social media and demanded they get serious about reforming America’s gun ownership laws.

One survivor, David Hogg, vented his rage at the familiar condolences offered following the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

“What we really need is action … We’re children. You guys are the adults … Work together, come over your politics, and get something done,” Mr Hogg told CNN in a clip that was shared tens of thousands of times on Twitter.

Other students also called out President Donald Trump and Republican politicians for tweeting their “thoughts and prayers” to the families of the victims.

“This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns,” student Carly Novell tweeted.

Associate Professor Robert Hassan, from the Media and Communications Program at the University of Melbourne, said politicians feel “forced” into posting condolence messages.

Politicians think that “if they don’t say it, someone will call them out on twitter or on social media”, Associate Professor Hassan said.

“For me it’s a sort of glib uttering of those words … It becomes irritating. There’s no feeling, there’s no meaning, there’s no actual sympathy,” he said.

“Too often people have an opinion, they voice those opinions either pro or anti gun-law and then it goes on until the next killing.”

Mr Trump also raised eyebrows with an ambiguous tweet of his own that cautioned how “neighbours and classmates” are responsible for ensuring they report “bad and erratic behaviour” such as that exhibited by charged gunman Nikolas Cruz.

The Florida shooting is the 17th incident of a gun being discharged in an American school as of just 45 days into 2018, according to data released by Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit organisation that has advocated for tighter gun control laws. In eight of those incidents lives were lost.

Despite this, America has failed to address issues of gun control or enact reforms to legalisation that would likely prevent shooting rampages.

Lori Alhadeff, the mother of a 14-year-old  student killed on Thursday delivered a heart-wrenching plea to Mr Trump.

President Trump, you say ‘what can you do’, you can stop the guns from getting into these children’s hands,” Ms Alhadeff shouted during a CNN broadcast. 

“This is not fair to our families that our children go to school and have to get killed.”

But it seems the message is still not cutting through. Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan said the Florida shooting should not threaten the rights of US citizens to possess firearms.

About four-in-ten Americans say they either owned a gun themselves or lived in a household with guns, according to a 2017 Pew Research survey.

Almost 70 per cent of those surveyed cited protection as a key reason for owning a gun. 

Associate Professor Hassan said he does not think anything is going to happen substantively from this tragic shooting.

“People say the next killing or tragedy will be the tipping point. Once that tragedy has spent itself and the media move on people quickly forget.”

He said one of the major benefits of social media is that it “stays with an issue rather than sees the issue die after the media cycle expends itself”.

He said social media could potentially be “very, very powerful” if used correctly.

“It takes persistence it takes coalition building and it takes reaching out to the other side.”

Until then, stand by for more “thoughts and prayers”.

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