President Joe Biden issued a lengthy statement Sunday on the third anniversary of the Parkland shooting. The comments were one of several remarks from elected officials honoring the 17 people lost in the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14, 2018.
“Three years ago today, a lone gunman took the lives of 14 students and three educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In seconds, the lives of dozens of families, and the life of an American community, were changed forever,” Biden said.
“For three years now, the Parkland families have spent birthdays and holidays without their loved ones. They’ve missed out on the experience of sending their children off to college or seeing them on their first job after high school. Like far too many families, they’ve had to bury pieces of their soul deep within the Earth. Like far too many families — and, indeed, like our nation — they’ve been left to wonder whether things would ever be OK.”
Comments from the White House came as those in Parkland continue to reel from the loss — and demand action.
Elected officials honored the tragic anniversary with remembrance and calls for policy changes.
“Three years ago, 17 innocent lives were tragically lost in the senseless shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida,” said Republican Sen. Rick Scott, who served as Governor at the time of the shooting.
“Today, I ask all Floridians to join in a moment of silence at 3 p.m. to honor their memory & families. We will never forget them.”
Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat representing the community, expressed the profound impact the events had on his actions since then.
“For the last three years, not a single day has gone by that I haven’t thought of the lives lost. The MSD flag hanging on my office wall and the list of names I keep in my wallet are my daily reminder of the individuals we lost on that day,” he said.
“For the last three years, the courageous families of MSD have inspired us by finding important ways to memorialize their loved ones. They have run for office, started foundations, and become fierce advocates for school safety and gun reform.”
He also praised student-led groups like March For Our Lives that have called for gun reforms following the loss of personal friends to gun violence.
Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat, explicitly called for more action to end gun violence in America.
“It is not too late — it is never too late — to take action to ‘End Gun Violence’ in this country,” she tweeted. “It is our duty to ‘Honor With Action’ those still with us.”
State Rep. Dan Daley, a Democrat and MSDHS grad, noted he has refiled legislation at the state level developed with another Parkland father, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime died in the shooting. The bill would require background checks on ammo purchases.
On the anniversary, he issued a statement reminding the consequences of the attack remain an immediate pain in Parkland no matter the time passed.
“While most of the world has moved on, I know that many in our community are still healing. Many are still dealing with the pain and frustration. Many families now have a permanently empty seat at the dinner table,” he said.
“However, in the years since this horrific tragedy, I have seen glimmers of hope. I have seen and worked beside survivors and families of those we lost who have taken their grief and sorrow and turned it into community activism — becoming strong, vocal advocates for change in the battle to end gun violence. The Parkland community refused to settle for the way things were and have since marched, organized, and advocated for change.”
And Biden’s statement reminded that while the mass shooting drew national attention, as does its anniversary, many families continue to lose loved ones to gun violence each day.
“These families are not alone. In big cities and small towns. In schools and shopping malls. In churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. In movie theaters and concert halls. On city street corners that will never get a mention on the evening news,” Biden said. “All across our nation, parents, spouses, children, siblings and friends have known the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. And in this season of so much loss, last year’s historic increase in homicides across America, including the gun violence disproportionately devastating Black and Brown individuals in our cities, has added to the number of empty seats at our kitchen tables. Today, as we mourn with the Parkland community, we mourn for all who have lost loved ones to gun violence.”
And the Democratic President promised his administration would seek ways to curb further crimes.
“The Parkland students and so many other young people across the country who have experienced gun violence are carrying forward the history of the American journey. It is a history written by young people in each generation who challenged prevailing dogma to demand a simple truth: we can do better. And we will,” he said.
“This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer. Today, I am calling on Congress to enact common-sense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now.”