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At Philly vigil for Florida shooting victims, a call for tougher gun laws

The Philadelphia district attorney’s office hosted a small vigil Tuesday night for the 17 victims of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“Right now, children are walking out and laying down all over the country. You know why? Because those of us who are adults — we have failed them,” said Yancy Harrell, founder of The Charles Foundation, addressing about 50 people gathered at City Hall.

Naiser Robinson, 17, said hearing about the Florida shooting made him think of his friend Cece Johnson. Johnson was 16 when he was caught in crossfire just after leaving Robinson’s house.

“It instantly takes me back to Cece because it’s sad that one man can decide to take 17 people’s lives just like that. And that’s what happened to Cece because he had nothing to do with what was going on in the park. And yet, just like that, he was gone,” said Robinson who attends Parkway Center City High School.

He was there with his classmate Mohamed Ameer Alli who said the national tragedy also brought a personal experience to mind. A friend of his died recently because of a disagreement — and a gun that he said was too easy to get.

“Honestly, I would blame the people in Congress that allow these guns to get on the streets — that don’t put enough gun bans for them to not get into the hands of young people,” said Alli as Robinson nodded.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner used the event to call for a ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons.

“It is time for you to demand that your prosecutors stand against gun violence and unregulated access to firearms,” he said.

Nurse Cathy Bernard said she is constantly worried about gun violence.

“I have a person who works with me whose young child woke up because they were afraid that they didn’t want to be killed at school. I mean, it’s enough,” said Cathy Bernard, who works for an insurance company.

Earlier in the day, a murder-suicide took place in a hospital near her home in New Jersey.

“That shooting took place 10 minutes away from my house. And although no one else was injured, that person was still able to walk into a medical facility with a gun,” said Bernard who supports background checks and bans on assault weapons.

Robinson said he supports all regulations that make guns more difficult for adults to obtain — so then there are fewer options for kids.

“I think adults need to care more. Because I think it impacts children more than adults think it does,” he said. “Like adults think maybe we can’t obtain guns, but that’s simply not true.”

A March 21 rally titled “Demand the Ban” is planned to call for ending sales of semi-automatic assault-style weapons.

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