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Latest School Shooting Sparks Calls for Gun Control, Again

Austin Burden, 17, cries on the shoulder of a friend after a vigil at the Parkland Baptist Church, for the victims of the Wednesday shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 15, 2018.
Austin Burden, 17, cries on the shoulder of a friend after a vigil at the Parkland Baptist Church, for the victims of the Wednesday shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 15, 2018.

Students, parents, educators and politicians were among the sad and angry voices Thursday calling for gun reform in the United States, where violent mass shootings are colliding with constitutional rights "to keep and bear arms."

The hashtag #GunReformNow remained the top trending topic on social media, where many called for a way to curb the sale and use of high-powered assault rifles that typically are used in mass shootings in the U.S.

The Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, in which 17 people were killed and at least 15 were injured, was the 18th mass shooting of the new year, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization in the U.S.

A woman consoles another as parents wait for news regarding a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018.
A woman consoles another as parents wait for news regarding a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018.

Video footage showed high school students crouched and sprawled on a classroom floor, crying and screaming as the sound of gunshots are heard in the background. Students who had fled to safety Wednesday lauded teachers who shielded them as the gunman made his way through the school.

Arrested was Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student. He was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Speaking on Capitol Hill, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson from Florida implored his colleagues to address the issue.

"Enough is enough," said Nelson, after a minute of silence to recognize the tragedy. "At some point as a society, we have got to come together and put a stop to this ... I have hunted all my life, I've had guns all my life, I still hunt with my son, but an AR-15 is not for hunting.

"It's for killing."

Nelson said he would "beg my colleagues to take commonsense actions that we all know will help protect our children and fellow citizens. … When is enough enough?" he concluded, shaking his head.

Others off- and online, pointed a finger at politicians who offer "thoughts and prayers" after shootings, but who accept large contributions from the powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, or NRA. News outlets issued lists of lawmakers who have taken the most contributions from the NRA.

Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona, Marco Rubio of Florida and Roy Blunt of Missouri), among others, were cited.

Rubio tweeted that he and his wife "were devastated and saddened by today's inexplicable tragedy …We join millions of Americans in praying for the victims, their families and all the students and teachers impacted by today's events."

Some Twitter users questioned whether the NRA contributions dissuaded the lawmakers from confronting the gun violence problem.

A man with a sign is seen after the news conference in the hallway outside the courtroom where Nikolas Cruz appeared via video at a bond court hearing after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S., Feb.15, 20
A man with a sign is seen after the news conference in the hallway outside the courtroom where Nikolas Cruz appeared via video at a bond court hearing after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S., Feb.15, 20

The NRA declined to comment to VOA about the Florida shooting, but the homepage on its website states that recently, NRA Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre "let [gun-control politicians] and their anti-gun minions know that the NRA will not tolerate their use of a tragedy in their war against the Second Amendment."

The amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, written in 1791, says, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Self-described conservative DrConsrvaMom argued on Twitter that guns should have more of a presence in schools for protection. On Twitter, she posted a graphic listing the places where guns are used for protection, from safety for the president to sporting events to banks.

"We defend our children with a sign that reads: This is a gun-free zone. And then call someone with a gun if there's an emergency," said DrConsrvaMom.

The teachers' union in the county where Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is located released a statement.

"Our hearts are broken," Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, said in a statement Wednesday. "This is a day we will never forget, one on which we've lost precious lives in a senseless tragedy. It is impossible to make sense of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School today, yet somehow we will come together."

See all News Updates of the Day

Universities in Middle East building research relationships with China  

FILE - University students display the flag of the Communist Party of China to mark the party's 100th anniversary during an opening ceremony of the new semester in Wuhan in China's central Hubei, September 10, 2021.
FILE - University students display the flag of the Communist Party of China to mark the party's 100th anniversary during an opening ceremony of the new semester in Wuhan in China's central Hubei, September 10, 2021.

As China bolsters research relationships with universities in the Middle East, the United States has taken notice – especially when that research involves artificial intelligence.

Reporting for University World News, Yojana Sharma has the story. (March 2024)

Tips for staying safe while studying in the US

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2019 photo, Sgt. Jason Cowger, with Johns Hopkins University's Campus Safety and Security department, walks on the university's campus in Baltimore.
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2019 photo, Sgt. Jason Cowger, with Johns Hopkins University's Campus Safety and Security department, walks on the university's campus in Baltimore.

Recent news events have raised safety concerns among some international students studying in the United States.

Adarsh Khandelwal, writing in the India Times, has tips for staying safe from the moment you arrive until the day you complete your studies. (March 2024)

Some colleges are making digital literacy classes mandatory

FILE - A teacher librarian at a Connecticut high school, left, works with a student in a Digital Student class, Dec. 20, 2017. The required class teaches media literacy skills and has the students scrutinize sources for their on-line information.
FILE - A teacher librarian at a Connecticut high school, left, works with a student in a Digital Student class, Dec. 20, 2017. The required class teaches media literacy skills and has the students scrutinize sources for their on-line information.

A 2019 study by Stanford found that most college students can’t tell the difference between real and fake news articles. Amid rampant online disinformation, and the threat of AI-generated images, some schools are making students learn “digital literacy” to graduate.

Lauren Coffeey reports for Inside Higher Ed. (March 2024)

With federal student aid delays, students aren’t sure what college will cost 

File - Students make their way through the Sather Gate near Sproul Plaza on the University of California, Berkeley, campus March 29, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.
File - Students make their way through the Sather Gate near Sproul Plaza on the University of California, Berkeley, campus March 29, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.

The U.S. Department of Education’s federal student aid form (FAFSA) experienced serious glitches and delays this year.

Now, many students have been admitted to college, but don’t know how much money they’ll need to attend.

Read the story from Susan Svrluga and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post. (March 2024)

Senator draws attention to universities that haven’t returned remains

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, speaks with reporters as he walks to a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, speaks with reporters as he walks to a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington.

More than 70 U.S. universities continue to hold human remains taken from Native American burial sites, although those remains were supposed to be returned 30 years ago.

Jennifer Bendery writes in Huffington Post that one senator has been using his position in an attempt to shame universities into returning remains and artifacts. (April 2024)

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