ONE Year after the Valentine's Day massacre inside a Florida school, students and families leading a nationwide push for school and gun safety paused last Thursday to mark the anniversary of the deadliest US high school shooting.

School buses brought only a handful of students to a shortened class day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student with an assault gun killed 17 people on Feb 14, 2018.

A moment of silence and community service activities took place at local schools as students honoured the victims by wrapping palm trees with their names and pictures and laying flowers at the base.

As night fell, scores of people filled a park for prayer vigil, led by a group of about a dozen clergy members from all faiths, who focused on unity, love and compassion in the name of those who died in the shooting a year ago.

''As men and women of faith, we stand with you Parkland, painful Parkland, profound Parkland, powerful Parkland,'' said David Hughes, the lead pastor at Church by the Glades in Coral Springs.

''In the name of a living God. we say together never, never, never, again.''

Leaders of March for Our Lives, a national student movement formed in the aftermath of the  Parkland tragedy to fight gun violence, were not in the spotlight, having noted they would ''go dark'' or cease most communications during the anniversary.

Still, an emotional Emma Gonzales, who helped to organize the movement, described at a news conference in New York the never-ending battle with trauma faced by survivors of mass-shooting like the one in Parkland 

''Everyday it feels like the shooting is happening again, or happened yesterday, or will happen tomorrow,'' said Gonzalez, who rose to prominence by urging her fellow students to ''call B.S.'' on supporters of the gun lobby.

From Washington to Florida's state capital Tallahassee, elected leaders from both parties vowed to work to prevent another catastrophe.

Republican President Donald Trump said on Twitter the anniversary was a time to ''recommit to ensuring the safety of all Americans, especially our nation's children.''

Democrats used the occasion to call for greater gun control, introducing legislation in states, such as North Carolina and Colorado, while the party's leadership in the US House of Representative    pledged to advance stronger background check requirements to buy firearms. [Agencies]


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