Florida school massacre survivor calls out GOP and NRA for refusing to deal with guns
Cameron Kasky: Saying nothing can be done is "a facade that the GOP is putting up" and "after every shooting the NRA sends them a memo saying send your thoughts and prayers, say let's not talk about it now, say this happens"
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From the February 16 edition of CNN Newsroom with John Berman and Poppy Harlow:
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ANDERSON COOPER: So you think -- you see this as a catalyst for change. I mean I've never been to a school after a shooting like this where I've met so many students who are talking about issues of guns in this time when so many politicians are saying now is not the time to talk about it.
CAMERON KASKY: Everybody has done an amazing job responding to this. The Stoneman Douglas community, the Parkland community. Everybody was an equal amount of supportive and grieving and inspired. And we're going to use this to try to make something better out of it.
COOPER: Do you really think change is possible in terms -- I mean for what the kind of change that you want?
KASKY: Everything I've heard where we can't do anything and this is just out of our hands, it's inevitable. I think that's a facade that the GOP is putting up. I think that's what they want us to think. I think that after every shooting the NRA sends them a memo saying send your thoughts and prayers, say let's not talk about it now, say this happens. This is the only country where this kind of thing happens. I've been hearing things from people, they don't have gun drills the way we do. We had to prepare extensively at Stoneman Douglas and that shocked people. This is something that can be stopped and this is something that will be stopped.
COOPER: I talked to the football coach yesterday who was saying that this school in its 28 years, this school was the most prepared than any school he had ever taught in. I mean they'd had repeated drills. Any school that could have been ready for something like this, there was a single point of entry, there was an armed guard, and yet it happened.
KASKY: The faculty at Stoneman Douglas is amazing. Our security guards are all dedicated. Aaron Feis, he died protecting us. And all of them knew exactly what they were doing. We've been through this a million times. We've talked about it a million times. We've had good discussions about this. We thought we were the last people who were going to have to deal with this. But -- and if we didn't have the faculty we did, this could have been a lot worse.
COOPER: Obviously there are a lot of politicians who are focusing on mental health and saying, "Look, something needs to be done about that." A greater focus on mental health.
KASKY: I think mental health is important. I think that it's being used as a way to get out of discussing gun control. But I think there's a very clear connection between the two. I'm not trying to take everybody's guns away. But, there was a 19-year-old who legally bought an AR-15 which is a weapon of war. And if he had been through the least bit of screening, somebody would have said this person does not need a weapon like that. And I think there need to be a lot more regulations put on guns and it needs to be a lot harder to get them.
COOPER: So you're a junior right now. Obviously you're already thinking about college, thinking about what you want to do afterward. Has this changed your thought about what you may want to do with your life?
KASKY: Absolutely. I've always been inspired. I've always -- I think I've always been passionate and had a drive. But this is something completely new. This feels like a calling. This doesn't feel like a hobby. I'm trying to spread as much awareness about this as I can. And I hope to continue doing that as long as it takes.
ANDERSON: So for those who are saying thoughts and prayers and this is not the type to talk about guns?
KASKY: This is the time to talk about guns. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated and everybody who's thinking about us and sending support, we do hear you and we appreciate you and we thank you. But there's much more that can be done, much more that needs to be done and much more that people like [Sen.] Marco Rubio [(R-FL)] and [Florida Governor] Rick Scott are not doing. And it's scary to think that these are the people who are making our laws when our community just took 17 bullets to the heart and it feels like the only people who don't care are the people making the laws.