Florida shooting: A Māori mother's plea for tighter gun controls

By Leah Te Whata

A Māori mother of three students living in America fears for their safety following the mass shooting in Florida last week that killed 17 people. 

Louisa Tipene Opetaia's children are anxious and paranoid following the Douglas High School shooting in America.

Opetaia says, "Your heart just breaks because that could have been my kid and just the helplessness that parents must have been feeling at the time."

Her youngest daughter goes to school in California and has taken part in active shooter drills. With 18 school shootings already recorded in America this year, she's prepared for the worst.

"We talked about her school having drills, and whether she knows what to do if there's an active shooter in her school. No parent ever wants to go through that with their child but for her safety, I want to make sure that she knows what to do if that does happen."

The latest shooting has re-ignited long-running debates about tougher firearm restrictions, with many not willing to give up their constitutional right to bear arms.

"People are just sick of this happening I mean you would think they would have stopped. Columbine was almost 20 years ago then Sandy Hook was little kids like kindergarten ages you would think that would have been enough but still, nothing changed and I think that everything just adds on to each other and people have just had enough."

America's National Rifle's Association put $30 million dollars behind Trump's presidential campaign. Opetaia says it's unlikely gun laws will change under the current government.

"I'm hoping that during the next election they'll bring some politicians that are brave and will make a stand."

The president has not publicly spoken about gun control in the wake of the attack and blames the mental health of shooter Nikolas Cruz who is being charged with 17 counts of murder.