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Trump To Hold ‘Listening Sessions’ Amid Florida Students’ Demand For Action On Gun Violence


A branch of the Women’s March dedicated to young activists is calling on students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a national school walkout on March 14.

The planned walkout will last for 17 minutes, symbolizing the 14 students and three teachers who were killed Wednesday when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

“Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence,” The Women’s March Youth EMPOWER said in a statement. “We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020.”

Students in Parkland are planning their own event on March 24 in Washington, D.C. Called the “March for Our Lives,” a mission statement for the students said they believe the time to discuss ways to end gun violence “is now.”

“The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues,” the event’s website said. “No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.”

Other Parkland students will travel to Tallahassee, Fla., this week to speak to state legislators in Florida’s statehouse to push for new legislation.

Authorities said a 19-year-old former student opened fire at the high school last week in a premeditated plot, in which he fired from an AR-15 assault rifle. Several others were seriously injured. Over the weekend, President Donald Trump visited with first responders in Parkland. Some have criticized the president, though, for what they say has been a lackluster response to the deadliest school shooting in United States history.

The White House said Trump will take part in a “listening session” Wednesday with high school student and teachers.

Trump has not yet addressed the issue of gun control in the days since the shooting, but said in a tweet the FBI failed to act on a lead about suspect Nikolas Cruz because the bureau was too preoccupied with the probe into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election.

On Thursday, Trump is set to meet with with state and local officials on school safety, although it’s unclear whether gun control will be part of the discussion. Friday, Trump is scheduled to speak to the Conservative Political Action Conference, a group for which gun rights are a top issue.

One survivor of the Florida shooting said he would not attend any “listening session” with Trump.

“If Donald Trump wants to listen to us, he should have taken the first invitation,” Alex Wind told CNN. “We are not going to come to him. He is going to need to come to us.”

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