WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — In the wake of the Florida shooting, President Donald Trump on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to move to ban devices like the rapid-fire bump stocks used in last year’s Las Vegas massacre. It was a small sign of movement on the gun violence issue that has long tied Washington in knots.
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, Trump made the announcement amid growing calls for tougher gun laws.
“You guys need to make sure that you stay strong and you keep the message!” a Florida high school student told a crowd as he stood atop a black van.
It was a message that students who attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida hope will forever alter the gun control debate.
“This is big. This is life changing. This is it,” said parent Cindy Damien. “This is where things are going to start happening.”
About 100 students boarded buses bound for Florida’s state capitol. It was an unmistakable show of unity after a gunman tried to rip their community apart last week.
“We’re gonna keep pushing until something is done because people are dying and this can’t happen anymore,” one student proclaimed.
They’re holding a march Wednesday, demanding a ban on assault rifles and stricter gun control for those who have a history of mental illness.
“If they’re not going to listen to us, it’s going to be really embarrassing for them because a hundred kids from a school that was shot up less than a week ago are coming, begging them — begging them to have a conversation with us,” said student Sofie Whitney.
President Trump weighed in on the conversation, addressing the bump stock issue earlier in the day.
“Just a few moments ago, I signed a memorandum directing the Attorney General to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns,” Trump said. “I expect that these critical regulations will be finalized, (Attorney General) Jeff (Sessions), very soon.”
During a medal of valor ceremony, the president stressed the importance of common sense security measures, which will include better coordination between different levels of law enforcement in taking swift action when there are warning signs — as there were in Parkland with accused shooter Nikolas Cruz.
“We cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,” Trump said. “We must actually make a difference.”
Making a difference is the driving force behind these students’ mission as they grieve the loss of friends.
“This isn’t right. It wasn’t something that anyone was prepared for,” said student Valeriya Antonshchuk. “It’s hard to make peace with something that happened so violently.”
On Wednesday, Trump will hold a listening session with students and teachers to talk about ways to keep schools safe. The White House has not said whether that event will include anyone from the high school in Parkland, Florida, which is set to open for classes again a week from Wednesday.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)