Hundreds Gather at Gun Control Rally in Fort Lauderdale

"We cannot have one more family, one more student, one more life taken because of a failure to hear and enact comprehensive firearm safety legislature in Florida," the Facebook event page read

Chanting "enough is enough" and waving signs emblazoned with messages like "No more silence, end gun violence," hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale Saturday to rally for stronger gun control laws in the aftermath of the deadly Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.  

The protest, which aimed to improve firearm safety legislation, called on the Florida Legislature to act in the name of gun regulation.

Survivors of the shooting that killed 17 people spoke with passion during Saturday's rally in front of the federal courthouse, and pleaded with lawmakers to change the nation's gun laws.

One student, Emma Gonzalez, angrily criticized politicians who take campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association. She challenged them to stop taking money, leading the crowd in a call-and-response chant.

"They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun," she said, chanting with the crowd, "We call BS."

She also said adults who believed that the shooter was mentally ill should have done more to prevent him from having a weapon.

A mosaic of public records is reported to show that alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz was dealing with depression and harming himself. When a Department of Children and Families investigation concluded in November, officials deemed him "stable enough not to be hospitalized." People also reported Cruz to law enforcement officials, including a person who warned of his "desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts," but the tips fell through the system's cracks. It was after these reports that Cruz allegedly used a legally purchased semiautomatic rifle to attack his former school on Wednesday.

At the rally, senior Delaney Tarr took on a lack of gun legislation, saying, "People that I know, people that I love have died, and I will never be able to see them again."

"They will never be able to attend homecoming, to attend prom, to go to college, to receive those national meritts scholarships, to school on their school's swim team. I just want to know, where's the common sense in that," Tarr said.

One victim, Nicholas Dworet, had committed to swim for the University of Indianapolis. Another victim, Carmen Schentrup, was named one of 53 National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists in September.

Florida Sen. Gary Farmer of District 34 took the podium Saturday and said that "the discussion of sensible gun safety laws has been absent and silenced in Tallahassee and in Washington D.C. for too long."

“This is the result of the stranglehold that the NRA has over Tallahassee and Washington DC and too many legislators,” he continued.

One parent, Kiara Finn of Miramar, told NBC 6 that her 5-year-old daughter Tarin asked if the gunman was coming to her school, and "if anybody can just come into her school and shoot them."

Finn said her message to legislators is "enough is enough," and that there is no  reason for an assault rifle.

Ahead of the protest, the Miami Gun Show -- one of the largest gun shows in the state -- opened Saturday morning less than 50 miles from Stoneman Douglas

The Florida Gun Shows organizers say they want to acknowledge the City of Parkland and its citizens, as well as the students and teachers who were murdered in the vicious attack.

"There’s no disrespect or insensitivity intended by this long-planned gun show,” the organization said. "We demand and enforce strict gun safety and encourage training for those who wish to own firearms."

In addition to Saturday's rally, the mass shooting sparked calls for more protests, walkouts and sit-ins across the United States.

Organizers behind the Women's March, an anti-Trump and female empowerment protest, called for a 17-minute walkout on March 14 to "protest Congress' inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods."

The Network for Public Education, an advocacy organization for public schools, meanwhile, announced a "national day of action" on April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, in which two students opened fire on their classmates, killing 12 students and one teacher.

The organization is encouraging teachers and students to organize sit-ins, walkouts, marches and any other events to protest gun violence in schools.

"The politicians sit on their hands as our children and their teachers are murdered in their schools," Diane Ravitch, the group's president, and Carol Burris, its executive director, said in a post online.

The Associated Press' Sudhin S. Thanawala contributed to this report.

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