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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  February 21, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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getting treatment and a bunch much things he did getting me out of negative situations and taking me to church on a regular day basis. >> coach feis a's funeral is tomorrow. thank you so much for being here. "the lead" starts right now. good afternoon. welcome to this special edition of the lead. i'm coming to you live in broward county, where i'll be moderating a town hall for students and teachers and those who lost loved ones during the shooting where 17 innocent people were gunned down just one week ago today. tonight they will have a chance to ask questions of lawmakers about what can change to prevent future tragedies. today some of the students from parkland are rallying for action and taking their demand for action directly to lawmakers in the state capital of tallahassee. and in minutes at the white house president trump will be
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holding a listening session with high school students, parents and teachers affected by mass shootings. the parkland high school shooting as well as groups representing survivors of the tragedy at is sandy hook and columbi columbine. our team is covering all angles. and our panel is with me. but i want to begin with kaylee hartung. set the scene for us out there. >> reporter: jake, more than 5,000 people have already confirmed they will be coming right here to the bb&t center tonight to bear witness to this conversation. we're just about 15 miles from the high school where this community has the opportunity to come face-to-face with their lawmakers. the spotlight will undoubtedly be on republican senator marco rubio who said in the past week that the gun legislation proposed wouldn't have prevented this massacre. students have not been shy over
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the past weekend calling him out for his long standing relationship with the nra. also on stage tonight, florida's democratic senator bill nelson, he spent time earlier today at the high school's memorial site. you will also hear from democratic congressman ted deutsche, a man who many students have told me has been an invaluable resource to them. and in addition to the lawmakers, the nra is also sending a national spokeswoman dana lash and we'll hear from broward county sheriff scott israel who has played an important role for this community through its healing process. and also notable, who won't be here. the president and florida's governor rick scott were both extended nf extended invitations, both declined to appear. >> all right. kaylee hartung, thank you so much. in what has been an extraordinary and emotional call to action, students from stoneman douglas high school say they are speaking truth to power today upping their pressure on florida state lawmakers to act
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to prevent school shootings. >> there is no longer a chance for you to just dismiss us, for you to ignore us and keep doing whatever it is you want to do while telling us that you want to be safe and you don't want anything like this to happen again, but not taking any action. >> cnn's dianne gallagher joining me live from the state capitol tallahassee. what are the students asking for from lawmakers? >> reporter: you know, jake, it is a multilayered request. really demand if you will. but on the face of it, they want gun control. now, if you talk to them individually as we have been over the past 24 hours about this, it may vary. some of then aren't even sure exactly what would fix this in their eyes, but overall most would like to see a reinstatement of the assault weapon ban. specifically banning high capacity magazines. others want to see the age limit increase where a larger amount of time that you have to wait, pull that waiting period out even longer than it is, or just have one for the semi automatic
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or ar-15 style rweapons. but really today during the midday press conference that they held after that he had these meetings, some were very frustrated, some want to know that they are still grieving and they want people to remember that. >> we will not be silenced. it has gone on long enough that we just because we are kids, we're not allowed to understand. but trust me, i understand. i was in a closet locked for four hours with people who i would consider almost family crying and weeping, begging for their livers. i understand what it is like to text my parents saying good-bye, i love you. i understand what it is like to fear for your life. >> reporter: now, that emotional testimony really from the students, jake, they will be taking some of that as well as their demands on gun control and
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mental health to rick sdot in t scott in the next few minutes. the republican governor obviously not at the town hall with cnn, but he is meeting with the stoneman douglas students. >> and cnn did offer not only to host governor rick scott, but to beam him in by satellite, but he declined. thanks so much. any moment now, president trump will sit down for a listening session with students from parkland as well as other activists trying to prevent anymore school shootings. kaitlin collins is live for us at the white house. and president trump has signaled that he might be open to making some changes in the wake of this massacre here in broward county. >> reporter: he has. and it is unlikely that he will do anything dramatic, but we did see the president say that he had directed the department of justice to propose regulations that would ban devices that turn weapons in to machine guns. and he is open into improving the federal background check system. but the question remain, what
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will actually come out of this. this is a president who largely enjoyed the suchts of tpport of nrment and washington is sceptical that anything will change. but it will be fascinating to watch the president come face to face with the students who survived that parkland school shooting here at the white house today. we are told that the president has been briefed by multiple officials. he will be there along with bets city d betsy devos who will moderate the event. but the students are grieving.t betsy devos who will moderate the event. but the students are grieving.s betsy devos who will moderate the event. but the students are grieving. betsy devos who will moderate the event. but the students are grieving.e the event. but the students are grieving. and a lot krcritical of the president. so it will be interesting how he sbr interacts with the students without a teleprompter with a lot of raw emotion to be expected in that room. >> all right. kaitlin collins, thank you. my political panel is here with me. mike, let me start with you. do you think these kids are getting through to president trump? he has talked about several
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measures that you might be willing to take. >> i think so. and i also think if you are expecting donald trump to stand in the way of reform in this situation, you will be very surprised. he is a strong assume eg suppor second amendment. when we 2r50id to recruit him for government, people head of that were opponents of the assault weapons and i believe his views on the second amendment are rather contemporary. the president is a compassionate person and i think he will do a great job today and i think a lot of people will be surprised what comes out of this situation out of the white house. as you know, what really needs to happen is regular order in congress. regular order in the florida legislature for example. you can't rush these things through. you can't fix them with an executive order. it just gets reversed when the next president comes in. i think they should lock the senate and house in the capitol building and give the key to
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donald trump about a this needs to be a term change. >> the president tweeted whether we are republican or democrat, we must now focus on strengthening background checks. this is i've heard a lot of conservative commentators say a nixon goes to china kind of moment for him because the nra is so strong with him, so strongly with him, maybe he actually incremental but significant changes. >> i think there is no question he can make a huge difference if he throws his weight behind it, if there are specific proposals that he is supporting and if he really goes out and sells this to the country, to the conservative base, to the trump base. those are the nra members. let's remember that the amount that the nra invested in this campaign and donald trump was tens and tens of millions of dollars, over $30 million. he has political capital. with the toughest folks to move on this issue. and it is incumbent upon him to
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use it. nothing happens if you just have a round table with kids. it is good optics, good for the country. i think good morale. he shouldn't lift his thumb and have a tooth any gry grin when with them. he needs to go beyond that as does rick scott who had a round table yesterday. as does every official that shows up. nobody wants talk anymore and that is what these kids are saying so effectively. they are such effective messengers. >> and you know about organize grass roots groups. these kids obviously there is something authentic and genuine, organic about how they kind of just became these spokespeople calling for change. do you think that they fed to be directed toward specific proposals or is it just working the way it is, which is somewhat chaotic, but calling for change, we need some change? this kid asks for this, this kid
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asks for that, but not necessarily a professional movement. >> there is beauty in both. and beauty in the chaos. young people stand up so courageously everyone in the face of what they have endured and this moment what happened in parkland is very traumatic and those young people will carry it for the rest of their lives. and it also reminds me of some of the young people during the civil rights movement where you have the young people, the freedom riders for example, and even the young people who sat at those lunch kountsd counters evh they are not much younger. so this organic movement of the millennial generation, even those younger than the any l mifflenial generation standing up, you should be safe in the home, churnlgt and school. so we are at a crisis moment in this country. >> and all right. a lot more to talk about. and we are moments away from president trump taking part in that listening session.
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that is next. stay with us. whoooo.
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welcome back to "the lead" live from broward county, florida. in just a few hour, cnn will host a live town hall with students and faculty from stoneman douglas high school. and at any moment president trump will host a listening session with student, parent, family and teachers affected by mass shootings, parkland and also sandy hook and columbincol. david gergen said yesterday that the leaders in the country are acting like high schoolers and the high schoolers in the country are asktsicting like le. >> amen. that is right. and wong poione point they are if they don't have the fortitude to act, they need to be replaced
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and that is absolutely correct. this is a tipping point moment. we have been here before. and this time we have to do something about it. and stop making excuses about why this cannot be done. the second amendment is not absolute above all over amendments in the constitution. yet in this country, we run around and act as though that is the case. and if our children being died, if sandy hook didn't move folks, those were elementary schoolchildren and then in this city, if this didn't move us, what will? what kind of civilized society can we call ourselves? >> and it depends on the measure. there is a lot of discussion. there was a measure in the florida legislature yesterday that died to ban semi automatic weapons. ar-15 type weapons. the governor was asked about what he supported. if not that. take a listen. >> my goal is to come up with something that is going to move
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the needle and make parents feel more comfortable that their kids will go to a safe school. that is the goal. those two weeks after friday, we'll get something done. >> i don't think i'm making a crazy prediction by saying i doubt that semi automatic weapons in this state or nation wide will be banned. what go you thido you think is ? >> one thing he could do is there is a law in this state that does not law mayors to pass their own lawyers. florida is it a very large diverse state. polices like miami are different. so you you should allow local leaders to put in laws that they feel address their needs. the next president of the florida senate has proposed the age increasing the age21.
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>> right now it is 18 for semi automatic, but 21 for handguns. >> you have to be 25 to rent a car, but you can be 18 and buy would have of those guns? that makes no sense. and he has also talked about increasing the waiting period. there is a lot of things that they can do. i as floridian, i want these guns banned. but i don't think that is a realistic thing. i've never been a gun position. but this is just too much. it is too close to home. it was, you know -- 40 minutes from my house. this could have been my family. this could have been your family. and i think that is how all of america is feeling. i am mad as hell at any conservative conspiracyist theory, you know that is saying that these kids are indoctrinated. even my colleague here at cnn, i'm mad at him because it is unacceptable to attack these kids.
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it has been only a week. they are organic, they are activists not because they want to be, but because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time ashd suffernd suffer tragedy. >> and on the right side of your screen, they are waiting for president trump. there has been an effort from the far, far fringe right to attack some of these kids, these survivors, as crisis actors, or the people who have been put up to this by the fbi. david hogg one of the more eloquent young men speaking after this was refuting the idea that his father who did used to work for the fbi had anything do with any of this. take a listen. >> these people say this is absolutely disturbing. i'm not an actor in any way, shape or form. i'm the son of a former fbi agent and that is true. but as such, it is also true
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that i went -- that i go sto stoneman douglas high school and i was a witness to this. i'm not a crisis actor. >> crazy that we even have to talk about that, but let's go to the white house where president trump just came in. we'll take a listen. as we're watching president trump coming in and greeting the survivors of these massacres, what are we expecting? >> well, the white house is billing this as a listening seg. they say the president will do a lot of listening. of course this is often a very pin yatopinion greate egreated .
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and these are students and parents and teaches. and tomorrow he will meet with school officials. so the white house is waiting to see what result will come of this is what washington is waiting to see. does the president change his mind, does he try to get harsher on gun control. we already know that he is open to banning devices like bump stocks. so that is why we'll weights to see what the president takes from this discussion. >> good to have you here. we want to do something about this horrible situation going on. so i want to listen and after i listen, i thought we'd ask our pastor if he could possibly say the prayer. thank you. [ inaudible ]
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>> thank you very much. appreciate it. vice president, i'd like you to say a few words and i'd like to then introduce you to betsy
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devos. mike, what do you have to say. >> first off, thank you, mr. president. i want to thank -- [ inaudible ] -- of the american people. as the president said last week, the american people are united. the president called this meeting to talk about what has happened in our country over the last years and to find out from all of you, listening by learning how we might ensure that this is the last time this ever happens.
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i along with the president are deeply moved by the stories of heroism and courage. and for those of you being here today. and i want you to tell us your stories. america is looking on. the president and our entire administration, leaders around the country at every level are looking on. and we want to hear your hearts today. i encourage you to be candid and be vulnerable, share with us not only the personal experience, but what it is that you would have us to do. and just know that as the president has already taken action, he will be meeting in this very room in the coming days with governors from all 50 states to make school safety a top priority of this administration across this
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country. the president and i want to make it first. so thank you to for coming. thank you for the courage to be here and share your hearts. and from our families to your family, god bless you. >> thank you, mike. very much. >> thank you, mr. president. students, stevteachers, parent, thank you for being here. many of you lived through something unthinkable. many of you, this is raw and fresh. i admire your strength and bravery to come and share your experiences with the president, the vice president, and the world. no student, no parent, no teacher should ever have to endure what you all have. my heart is broken. what happened last week shocked us. it angers us and pains us. so we are here to have an honest
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conversation about why this tragedy and too many others before it happened and how we can work to find solutions. we're here to listen, to gain your important perspective on ways to reduce violence and to protect students. our hope is that by talking and by listening, we can make something that was unthinkbly bad something good. and your thought and your trauma must never be in vein. so thank you again for being here. >> thank you very much, betsy. i just want to say before we begin, because i want to hear you, but we'll be very strong on background checks, very strong background check, very strong emphasis on the mental health of somebody. and we are going to do plenty of other things. again next week the governors
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are coming in from most of the states. we will talk about what is going on with school safety. very important. and we'll cover every aspect of it. there are many ideas that i have, many ideas in a other peopthat other people have and we'll pick out the most important ideas and work to get them done.that other people have and we'll pick out the most important ideas and work to get them done. it won't be talk. it has gone on too along. too many ininstances. and we'll get it done. so again thank you all for being here. i'd like to hear your story. and i'd also like to -- if you have any suggestions for the future based on this horrible experience that you have gone through, i'd love to have those ideas. how about you? >> thank you, mr. president for having me here. my name is julia and i'm from stoneman douglas high school.
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i was there during the shooting and i am a survivor. and i want you guys all to emphasize the point that i survived. i was lucky enough to come home from school. unlike some of my other classmates and teachers. and it's very scary and knowinging that a lot of people did not have this opportunity to be here still is mind blowing. and i'm just -- i feel like there is a lot to do and i really appreciate you hosting me and what you are saying, i'm confident that you will do the right thing and i appreciate you looking at the bump stocks yesterday. that means -- it is definitely a step in the right direction and i think we can all agree on that. there is definitely a lot more to go, but i'm just grateful that i'm here and we can try to work out something. maybe compromise on some solutions so this never has -- no child, no person in this world will ever have to go
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through something so more risk and tragic. and my thoughts and prayers are out to everyone there this. so thank you. >> my name a jonathan. i go to stoneman douglas. and i was in the second classroom that was shot at. in my hind, mind, nothing ever horrible should ever have to happen to you. and you can't even think about it. like it doesn't even seem real still. everything seems fake. i can't even -- i don't even know what is going on. it is just crazy. everything happening. it is just so tragic. thank you for everything. you've done a great job and i like the direction in a you're going in. thank you.that you're going in. thank you. >> my name is melissa blank. jonathan is my son. and i was in a school that was also on lockdown.
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so [ inaudible ] i feel for all of these families. my heart is just broken for my whole community. we were coming together. i feel for all the families who have lost. and i feel for the ones that are here because we now have almost a guilt like i have. when my child, which i feel bad saying i'm happy that he is here with me, but i feel so bad for all of you who have lost so many. and i'm just begging for a change. we need a change.
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>> do you mind if i pass the microphone back to my daughter? because i think she has some nice solutions if that is okay with you. >> okay. i'm carson, a junior and i was at marjory stoneman douglas at the time of the shooting. and i know there are a lot of different solutions that we can go through to help eradicate this issue. but one that stuck out to me causes about all twas all the drills an protocols that my teachers had to go through. they knew what to do when code red was announced, but through research, i found only 32 states require drills. but of those 32 states, more than hatch the counties do not go through the drills because they want to spend their resources toward something else. and i had know that a bill was also passed that declared that
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each school has to go through one drill each month. but you know my school, we go through fire drills every month. and we have not had our lockdown drill yet this year. and i think ghachange that will increase all the training and protocols so if god forbid another shooting happens, at least all the teachers will be prepared and can hopefully keep their students daum. calm. >> that is great. thank you. >> and my name is arianna. i'd like to say thank you for leading your country. you are a great laid are and i appreciate the correctidirectio the country is going in. i'm a junior at stoneman douglas. and i just want fto say this everybody right now is so stuck on what they believe that they are not even listening to what other people believe. we need to listen to other points of views. we all need to realize that we all have different points of
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views and that we need -- the solution is not going to be a singular thing. it will be multifaceted and it will be created by a collection of different people working together and we have to realize that we all have our opinions and together we'll be able to work to a solution. and this is not just parkland anymore. this is america. this is every student and everybody. it is not small. it is everything. so thank you for having us. >> thank you very much. appreciate it. >> my name is fred, i'm carson's dad. i'm going to pass the microphone along to some of the other students if we have a chance later on, perhaps i'll speak or other parents would speak, but i'd like the students to get their chance. >> very nice. >> i'm justin river and i was at the school at the time of the massacre. i'm only 15 years old. i'm a sophomore. 19 years ago, the first school
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shooting at columbine high school happened. and i was born into a world where i never got to experience safety and peace. there needs to be significant change in this country because this has to never happen again and people should be able to feel that when they go to school, they can be safe. and because there needs to be a change. i'm sorry. people need to feel safe. and parents shouldn't have to go through the idea of losing their child. as i know for my dad, he was panicking. and he couldn't imagine it. so that shouldn't even be a possibility that should go through a parent's mind. and there needs to be some change. thank you. >> thank you. thank you very much.
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>> i'm kerry, justin's dad. and i'll be brief. justin was texting me hiding in a closet saying good somethiif happens i love you, and you can't imagine what that is like. and his phone died and i didn't know what happened for another hour. so 17 lives are gone. i was lucky enough to get my son home. you b but 17 families, this is -- this is not left and right. it is not political. it is a human issue. people are dying. and we have to stop this. we have as to top v sthave stop. if he is not old enough to buy a beer, he should not be able to buy a gun at 18. that is just a common sense. we have to do common sense. please mr. trump, this is things very to do. in israel, you have to be 17 to buy a gun. they taxes guns.
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you have to go through significant training. we have to do something about this. we cannot have our children die. this is heart dltd brebreaking. please. >> thank you. >> i'm a localed a palestinian straight tore for a school in d.c. and i want to continue the conversation for you're students. >> and i'm also a local educator here in washington, d.c. for friendship charter public schools. so i will allow our students that are here to voice their opinions as well as give some of their ideas to do that at this time. and my condolences and my heart you through lytruly go out to ne families that have lost children in this horrific, horrific incident that has occurred, but
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also to our families here in the district of columbia that experience gun violence outside of you're schools th s thour sc impact our schools because they are our students. >> thank you fp. >> hello, i go to the friendship technology preparatory academy in the heart of southeast d.c. my condolences to every family here that experienced the shooting and all the students that experienced that. and i'm here on behalf of my school and all of the friendship schools in d.c. to be able to prevent those kind of things happening in our school because in southeast d.c., we do encounter a lot of violence. and things -- most of the time at night, but a lot of times it is in the daytime, too. so our schools, we do take
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preventive measures and everything to stop that. we check bags at the door and everything and it does makes -- at first we were like no, we don't want to do on this, but then we realize it is for our safety. but we wanted to make sure that it continues and that nothing can ever slip up to -- for these things to happen in school. like counseling for our students who are struggling with fear and bullying. bullying triggers emotions that will make a student want to bring like a weapon to schooling to protect themselves or to get revenge for a person whong to protect themselves or to get revenge for a person whog to protect themselves or to get revenge for a person who to protect themselves or to get revenge for a person who -- that did something to them. so we want a lot of preventive measures to be in the schoolis and also outside the schools to make sure nothing can happen to us while we're in school. >> thank you.
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thank you very much. >> made low, m mr. president, i of the city of parkland. we have a great city. it has been one of the safest cities in america. and the fact that this happened in our city means it can happen anywhere. we are blessed that we are very close knit family oriented city. and our community is coming together. we lost 17 lives, but the ripple effects throughout the community are devastatindevastating. i spent the last week going to funerals. friends of mine that lost their children, we have to at some point care enough and be strong enough to come up with solutions. and i hope we will. and if i might, i had two parents who lost children this past week text me some of their thoughts if i might share them with you. thank you. i spoke to jennifer and tony
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montalto, they just buried their daughter gina yesterday. and their comments were so tony is an airline pilot. and he said he supports the second amendment, but he does not believe there is a need for assault rifles. he also said that the fbi there were signs missed and it reminded him of 9/11. so we do have to work on making sure that our protocols are in place so that people don't slip slew the crac through the cracks literally. we also talked about the red flag laws. i think there is a little progress being made in florida on the red flag laws which is when somebody shows signs of hurting themselves or someone else, you can take their gun away from them. fred guttenberg, service for his daughter jamie was last week on
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friday. and he would like the administration to publicly acknowledge the role of guns. now, these two parents talked about guns and there absolutely lots of area where is there are rooms of improvement. from mental health, from teacher training, but also part of that is also the gun issue. so it is not that it is just those and not the gun, it is all of them. and in the debate world, in the high school debate world, the kids talk about when they write up legislation, you want to have impank impac impacts. and what is the positive impact of having legislation that stops assaults rifles, fans bans assa arrive rifles? it could save a life and that has to be a priority. if free speech in any way
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endangers someone, it gets restrinlgted. and i we're coming here to listen and we need action and solution oriented. >> thank you. >> i'm mere becauhere because m has no voice. she was murdered last week and she was taken from us. shot nine times on the third floor. we as a country failed our children. this shouldn't happen. we go to the airport, i can't get on a plane with a bottle of water, but we leave some animal to walk into a school and shoot our children. it is just not right. and we need come together as a
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country and work on what is important. and that is protecting our children in the schools. that is the only thing that matters right now. everyone has to come together and not think about different laws. we need to come together as a country, not different parties, and figure out how we protect the schools. it is simple. it is not difficult. we protect airports. we protect concerts. stadiums. embassies. the department of education that i walked into todays that has a security guard in the elevator. how do you think that makes me feel? in the elevator they got a security guard. i'm very angry that this happened. because it keeps happening. 9/11 happened once. and they fix everything. how many schools, how many children have to get shot?
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it stops here with this administration and me. i'm not going to sleep until it is fixed. and mr. president, we'll fix it. because i'm going to fix it. i'm not going to rest. and my boys need live with this. i want to see everyone. you you look at this. me, i'm -- i'm a man, but to see your children go through this, bury their sister. that's what i keep saying because i want to sink in. not for get about this. we can't for to get about it. all these school shootings, it doesn't make sense. fix it. should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it. and i'm pissed. because my daughter i'm not going to see again. she's not here. she's not here.
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she's in north lauder dale, king david cemetery, that is where i go to see my kid now. and if we all work together and come up with the right idea, school safety. it is not about gun laws. that is another fight, another battle. let's fix the schools and then you guys can battle it out whatever you want. but we need our children safe. monday, tomorrow, whatever day it is, kids go to school. do you think everyone's kids are safe? i didn't think it was going to happen to me. if i knew that, i would have been at the school every day if i nooknew it was that danger ar you. work with the president and fixed schools. that is it 37 no othit. no other discussion discussions. no our discussions. i'll never see my kid again. never ever will i see my kid. i want to sink in.
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eternity. my daughter, i'm never going to see again. and it is simple. it is not we can fix it. this is my son who has had to deal with this, too. do you have something to say, son? >> i just want to add it is imperative to the safety of everyone to support the free market and the free flow of ideas and listen to people on -- listen to radical opinions on both sides. and that is how we'll find solutions. you let people battle it out in a free flow of ideas. censorship has got to stop. and that is how we find the solutions. by listening to everyone. having an open mind.
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>> this is my son hunter 37. >> i'm hunter pollack, dallas of '15, marjory stoneman douglas. i walked the same hallways. first off i want to thank mr. president for having us. we had a very effective meeting before we walked into room. mr. vice president as well and madame secretary, i put all my trust in them and my father together that we can find a solution and that is all i have to say. thank you for having us. >> my name is sam, a student fromy stoneman douglas in park land. and i want to take a second
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first to thank you for having he me, from president, mr. vice president, madame secretary. i was on the second floor in that building. texting my mom. texting my dad. text going three ingoining text going three ingoinin three that i was never going to see them again. and then it occurred to me, my 14-year-old brother was directly above me. in that classroom where scott beigel was murdered. scott beigel got my brother in the class, he was the last kid to get back in to that class. and i'm sure a lot of you somewhere read my texhave read my texts on the internet. i didn't plan for them to go viral, i just wanted to share
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with the world because no brothers or sisters or family members or anyone should ever have to share those texts with anyone. i lost a best friend who was practically a brother. and i am using my voice because i know he can't. and i know he is with me cheering me on to be strong, but it is hard. and to feel like this, it didn't even feel like a week. time has stood still. to feel like this ever, i can't feel comfortable in my country knowing that people have, will have, ever going fto feel like this. and i want to feel safe at
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school. senior year and junior year are big years from me, i started connecting with teechlt achers started actually enjoying school and now i don't know how i will ever step foot on that place again or go to a public park after school. or walk anywhere. me and my friends, we get scared when a car drives by. anywhere. i think i agree with hunter and huck and how we need to let ideas flow and get the problem solved. i don't understand. i turned 18 the day after. woke up to the news that my best friend was gone.
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and i don't understand why i can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war. i was reading today that a person 20 years old and bought an ar-15 in five minutes with an expired i.d. how is it that easy to buy this type of weapon in how do we not stop this after columbine, after sandy hook? i'm sitting with a mother that lost her son. it's still happening. in australia there was a shooting at a school in 1999. after that, they took a lot of dw ideas, they put legislation together and they stopped it. can anybody here guess how many shootings there have been in a schooling since then in australia? zero.
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we need to do something. that is why we're here. so let's be strong for the fallen who don't have a voice to speak anymore. and let's never let this happen again. please. please. >> mr. president, mr. vice-president, madame secretary, my story is far too well-known. i have two sons who were at sandy hook school. my eldest who was 8 at the time survived and my 6-year-old son dylan did not. and i have been working tirelessly on this issue for over five years now. the organization that i helped lead, sandy hook promise, is very focused on keeping kids
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safe at school because no parent should go through this. every parent who sends their kid to school should know without any question in their nind that they will mind that they will be coming home that day. this is not a difficult issue. you're absolutely right. there are vugs solutiare soluti administration has the ability to put this in place. after sandy hook, they would they wouldn't let it happen again and yet it has continued to happen for five years. how many more deaths can we take as a country, how many more teenagers and 6 and 7-year-olds can we allow to die? don't let that happen anymore on your watch. there are things that you can do right now. mental health you mentioned earlier. funding for that would be very much appreciated. the stop school violence act,
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enabling prevention pranl hi programs, it is in the senate, urge swift passage of that, that can get a lot of help to schools. i absolutely agree since sandy hook has there has been an increase in school safety and security. we've invested a lot in the bricks and mortar and the security of our schools. i think we need to focus on prevention. how do we prevent these acts from helping. how can we help identify and get help for feel who are at risk of hurting themselves or others before they pick up any weapon. that is what we need to focus on. and you have the ability to do that. there is legislation available to you right now. there are free training programs such as our nova science programs available across the states. you could mandate these sorts of programs. he can ensure that schools, educators are trained how to recognize the signs and to know
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what to do when they see them and ensure that those tips are followed through. this is not difficult. these deaths are preventable. and i emfloimplore you, consider own children. you don't want to be me. no parent does. and you have the ability to make a difference and save lives today. please don't waste this. thank you. >> thank you. >> mr. president, vice president, thank you for inviting my wife and i to be here. i'm a little bit weak. i had surgery last weak, so i'm weak in voice and body. but 19 years ago, i went through like some of the folk here went through now because my beautiful daughter rachel was killed. and my son craig was in the library that day.
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two of his friends were murdered beside him. he lay there covered in their blood looking down the barrel of two guns aimed at him. and he knew he was going to die. and the split second before eric and dylan pulled the trigger, the alarm system went off and they distracted them and they never came back to the table where craig was at or i would have lost two children that day at columbine. so my heart goes out to you, circumstance and everyone in this room that has experienced the trauma that you are going through at parkland. our focus has been -- my beautiful wife and the beefautil laid in the blue and white, we started a program called rachel's challenge. it started a year after rachel died. and we have worked with some wonderful partners over the last few years. we worked closely with a program they call kick start for kids. we are working with cal ripken jr., his brother bill and have
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skraeted created called the uncommon athlete and based on something my daughter wrote. we partner with one of the top k through 12 researchers in the country. and a program called why try all dear friends. and another program called love and logic. one of the largest parenting e together. we have reached over 20 million students and we see several prevented. see's an average of three suicides prevented every week. i have a little book with me that i would like to leave with you. it has letters from students, we don't edit them. these are e-mails from students planning to commit suicide. and we see three of those every single week. students that changed their mind. and if you don't mind, i just
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want to share one simple principle with you that we have learned over the years as we have worked with millions of young people and it comes from something understand last week in your speech. and it was that we must create a culture of connectiveness. we must create a culture in which our classmates become our friends. and that is something we've learned how to do over the years. we have over 28 different programs and we see children kenkt with o connect with one another. every school shooting has been from young men who have been disconnected and we talk a lot about the mental health issues, but it goes deeper than this because there is a lot of mentally ill children that are kind and compassionate. and so we work with those children every single day of the year of the school year. but there is always the one with the propensity to violence. and so one of the things we have learned and we train young
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people and treeeachers that the focus is not just on unity or diversity. because if you focus too much on diversity, you createdy vision. if you focus on uchbtsit iunity create compromise. but if you focus on relatedness, then you can celebrate diversity and see the unity take place. i'm all for diversity, all for unity 37 but the focus really needs to be on how can we connect and that is something that we in our organizations have learned. one thing we have learned is how to connect students with each other, with themselves, with theirers and parents. and i would love to share more as we have a chance to do so. thank you again for having us today. >> thank you swrecnanthank youv. some of the folks in the back and some of the my friends sitting right back here, i'd
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like to have you say a few words. we want to learn everything we can learn. and we'll go starting about two minutes after this meeting we'll work, because this is a long term situation that we have to solve. we'll solve it together. and you've gone through extraordinary pain. and we don't want others to go through the kind of pain that you have gone through. it wouldn't be right. so would you like to say something, please? >> thank you, mr. president. my name is curtis kelly. i represent thur ggood marshall academy here in the sdrudistric bee columbia.