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Elected Leaders Call For Change After High School Shooting

Law enforcement officers block off the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Thursday. Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after Wednesday's attack on the school. Photo: Wilfredo Lee/AP

Governor Rick Scott says it’s time for Tallahassee to talk about public safety, and preventing mentally ill people from possessing guns.

Scott made his remarks Thursday in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Parkland, a day after a shooting at a high school left 17 people dead.

He says he plans to sit down with state leaders next week. “We’re going to have a real conversation about two things. How do we make sure when a parent is ready to send their child to school, that in Florida, that parent knows that child is going to be safe? Number two: how do we make sure that individuals with mental illness do not touch a gun?”

Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the mass shooting yesterday afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Authorities say Cruz was once a student there, but had been expelled for unspecified “disciplinary reasons.”

The gunman allegedly used an AR-15 assault weapon during the shooting. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is calling on lawmakers to discuss stricter laws for these types of weapons. “Let’s do what needs to be done and let’s get these assault weapons off our streets. Let’s accomplish something on background checks,” said Nelson on the Senate Floor Thursday.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said in this case, background checks didn’t work. “When someone is planning a premediated attack they will figure out a way to evade those laws or quite frankly to comply with them in order to get around it. That might be an argument for laws of a new kind, but that’s what makes it hard, not impossible.”

President Donald Trump struck a solemn tone, describing a “scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil” and promising to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” but avoiding any mention of guns.

Taking up the now-familiar ritual of public consolation after terrible violence, Trump spoke from the White House Diplomatic Room. In a slow, deliberate style, he sought to reassure a troubled nation as well as students’ families and shooting survivors in Florida.

More than a dozen people were hospitalized after the shooting. Officials say five have been released so far, and all are expected to recover.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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