Students Who Survived Florida Shooting Want Politicians To Know They're Angry
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Cameron Kasky is angry. He's angry because when he goes back to school, 17 people won't be there, 17 people who were killed in a mass shooting in Florida on Wednesday. And Cameron Kasky is with us now. Welcome.
CAMERON KASKY: Hi. Thank you for having me.
MCEVERS: Can you tell us about Wednesday afternoon?
KASKY: Wednesday was great up until then. It was Valentine's Day. Stoneman Douglas was really feeling the love. Something about Wednesday just felt right. It seemed too good to be true, and unfortunately it was. It was the end of the day, and I was going to pick up my little brother from his class. And we hear a fire alarm. But Holden is in special needs class, so I was on the other side of the school, picking them up. And we went out into the parking lot, and everything was going as one would expect a fire drill would go when you're working with developmentally disabled kids. It's a little concerning 'cause it's a high-stress situation, and not all of them are good at dealing with that. But everybody was great.
And suddenly we hear people screaming, run inside. And we weren't shuffling inside. We weren't crisply walking inside. We were sprinting. But none of us knew what was going on necessarily. We were making our way back to my drama room because that's my last class of the day, and a teacher, Ms. Driscoll, said, go into that room. And I said, we can make it to drama. And she said, no, go into that room right now.
And we find ourselves in the room with one teacher and two specialists who were specifically there for certain kids with more specific disabilities. And there were about 20 students. The lights were off. The door was closed. My little brother, Holden, again, who does have special needs was so brave. He kept himself together probably better than I did. And it was an hour of pain and confusion. And I'm very lucky to be here.
MCEVERS: You made it out of the school.
KASKY: Yes. We were evacuated. The SWAT team did an excellent job working with the children with special needs. And the entire staff of Stoneman Douglas - all of its faculty couldn't have handled this better. We were prepared. And if we didn't have the staffers that we did, it could have gone a lot worse.
MCEVERS: You have now written an essay that was published by CNN, and it is called "My Generation Won't Stand For This." What does it say?
KASKY: The op-ed piece that I wrote for them discusses at first what happened with my brother and I but then what we can do now because the main focus of this for me is fixing this because this has happened too many times. And I'm very aware that every time this happens, people say this has happened too many times. But unfortunately it took it hitting me right at home for me to want to do something about it, and I'm not going to stop. The community just took 17 bullets to the heart. And our lawmakers Rick Scott and Marco Rubio - they have the blood of 17 people on their hands, and we are not apologizing for telling them that they're gone. It's over with them.
It's time to put lawmakers in positions who are not taking money from the NRA and are not fostering and promoting this gun culture that's allowing things like this to happen and allowing mentally troubled teens like Nikolas Cruz to buy guns. He was 19 years old, and he bought it legally. Forget everything that was going on in his head. Forget the fact that the police were called on him so many times. He was 19, and he bought an AR-15, which is a weapon of war. You don't need an AR-15 to keep your house safe. And that's why many of my friends and I have started an online community called Never Again MSD.
MCEVERS: Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the name of your school.
KASKY: Marjory Stoneman Douglas, yes. And we are very thankful for all of the support we're getting. As bad as this situation is, it really shows that there are people around here who are doing great things and who care and who are listening and who are as angry and hurt as we are and who are ready to do something about it.
MCEVERS: What do you say to people who say don't politicize this; it's too soon?
KASKY: It's too late. It's too late. It's never too soon. The second this happened, it became too late. And to those who say we can't politicize this, they don't understand that if we don't politicize it, no action is going to come from this. We need to start moving now. And as much as we love thoughts and prayers, we don't need them from our lawmakers. We need action, and we demand it. And we're going to get it.
MCEVERS: How does this go from a Facebook group and an outpouring of support to something?
KASKY: It's the people. It's going to be the people who have been able to speak out and help that are going to make this happen because we already have support. We're going to get things done, and we're going to show them in the polls. The midterm elections are coming up. And unfortunately I'm not a Russian computer, so I can't vote yet. But I can inspire people to vote, and I can get people punishing those who have hurt us.
MCEVERS: Cameron Kasky is a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Thanks for your time.
KASKY: Thank you Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.