On Thursday, Feb. 15, a day after 17 people were killed at a high school in south Florida, former President Barack Obama tweeted about the Parkland school shooting. Obama's tweet about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School came as the nation, once again, debates gun control and discusses what should be done, once again, after a horrific mass shooting. As he has done for years, Obama took this moment for debate to state unequivocally where he stands on the issue.
Obama wrote in his tweet that the nation is "grieving with Parkland," but "not powerless." Presumably, he was saying that there is actually something that America can do to stop school shootings from happening every 60 hours. And what America can do to stop shootings, Obama wrote, includes instituting "long overdue, common-sense gun safety laws that most Americans want." This is a message that Obama has been sharing for years as shooting after shooting takes place in this country.
The former president said in his tweet that having those laws is part of "our first job," which is to "[care] for our kids." "And until we can honestly say that we're doing enough to keep them safe from harm," Obama tweeted, "then we have to change."
Obama's plaintive tweet came after President Donald Trump addressed the nation about the shooting. Contrary to Obama's tweet (and Obama's addresses to the nation following shootings), Trump did not discuss the clear and apparent need for gun control at all during his statement.
"I want to speak now directly to America's children, especially those who feel lost, alone, confused, or even scared. I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be," Trump said. "You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you. If you need help, turn to a teacher, a family member, a local police officer, or a faith leader. Answer hate with love, answer cruelty with kindness."
Trump has not indicated that he will answer a mass shooting with a push for the gun control laws that could prevent the next mass shooting from happening.
These contrasting responses to the shooting from the former and current president come as survivors of the Parkland shooting are calling for gun control laws. "We're children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done," David Hogg, a senior at the high school and a student journalist who survived the attack, told CNN.
"As a society, you know, as Americans, we’re failing our children. We’re not keeping them safe, and Congress is failing us, and the government is failing us, and something has to be done," Melissa Falkowski, a journalism teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who hid 19 students during the shooting, told the Today Show on Feb. 15.
While former President Obama has been outspoken about the need for better gun control laws, especially following the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, President Trump has made his opposing stances known since he began running for president in 2015.
Just last month, Trump told Piers Morgan that if the Las Vegas shooter didn't have 55 guns, "he would have had 55 bombs," or "55 of something else." Trump has also made the "good guy with a gun" argument that with fewer gun ownership restrictions, there would be more people around to stop attacks. This is an argument that has been heavily criticized, especially as people still die within the context of that argument. Meanwhile, Trump has focused arguments on mental health, although his administration has not done much at all to improve health care access in the country. Suffice it to say, there's a reason that people turn to Obama after gun tragedies like this.