A month ago, a former student roamed the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, opening fire on terrified students and teachers at the Parkland, Florida, school.
It’s been three weeks since they lost 17 classmates and teachers. In that time, grieving students launched a nationwide movement that could spur new gun laws. Warning signs about the suspect came to light. And gun control legislation gained traction in the state legislature.
While Florida lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday night that includes several gun control measures, a grand jury earlier in the day indicted ex-student Nikolas Cruz on 17 counts of murder.
What’s new: Wednesday marked the first full day of classes at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. NBA star Dwyane Wade stopped by to tell students he was inspired by how they’ve handled the tragedy.
Many of the students have confronted state and federal lawmakers, demanding a ban on weapons similar to the gun used to kill their friends and teachers.
What’s next: Stoneman Douglas students say they will continue the fight to ban assault rifles. “I’ll definitely be speaking out still until changes are made,’ Senior Demitri Hoth said.
On March 14, exactly one month after the gunman killed 17 people at the school, students across the country will walk out for 17 minutes in support of the Stoneman Douglas students.
Students are now turning their attention to March 24, when gun control activists nationwide will participate in the March for Our Lives in Washington. The event was created by Stoneman Douglas students.
A local March for Our Lives is also planned for that day in Parkland for those who may not be able to make it to the nation’s capital.
“The march in Parkland is going to be the second largest march next to the one in D.C.,” Sherman, 17, said Wednesday after a Parkland City Commission meeting. “Parkland is the center of everything … we learned here, we grew up together. We go to school here.”
While not much has changed on the federal front, there have been some changes on the state level.
Senate Bill 7026 – dubbed the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act” – would also give law enforcement more power to seize weapons and ammunition from those deemed mentally unfit and provide additional funding for mental health services and armed school resource officers.
What’s next: The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott, who has expressed reservations about the three-day waiting period and the provision that would allow some teachers and staff to carry weapons in schools.
What’s new: A grand jury indicted Cruz on 34 counts, including 17 counts of premeditated first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder.
The case involves a complex web of finger-pointing as to who could have helped prevent the massacre, and what signs about suspect Nikolas Cruz were ignored or missed.
Much of the recent blame has fallen on the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. One of its armed deputies stayed outside the school as the massacre unfolded. And in the past decade, authorities received more than 20 calls about Cruz and his family.
The sheriff’s office recently launched a website “setting the record straight.” It says while deputies did respond to Cruz’s home multiple times in the past, there was nothing criminal nor dangerous happening that would warrant an arrest.
What’s next: More details may be released now that the grand jury has finished its deliberation.
On Wednesday night, Parkland residents will have a chance to grill local officials and authorities at a city commission meeting.