Vice President Mike Pence promised changes for school safety, while speaking in Dallas Saturday, days after the deadly school shooting in Florida that killed 17 people.
He did not outright mention changes to any gun laws, but instead said the Trump Administration plans to focus on school safety and will work to give law enforcement tools to deal with the mentally ill before this happens again.
"As a dad, I know I speak for everyone in this room when I say that's every parent’s nightmare, but the heartache in Florida is heartache Texas knows all too well. Then as now, hearts were broken, but then as now, heroes were forged,” said Vice President Pence.
The Vice President was in Dallas Saturday for the annual Reagan Day Dinner, a fundraiser by Dallas County Republicans.
"We will make safety at our nation's schools our top priority. As the president said a few days ago, no child, no teacher should ever be in danger in the nation's schools," he said. "We are going to give those struggling with dangerous mental illness the skills they need before they harm others."
Among the student survivors are Taryn and Zach Hibshman. FOX 4’s Allison Harris spoke to the siblings via Skype Saturday afternoon.
"You hear about all these school shootings and you never expect it to happen at your school until it does and you don't know what to do with yourself," said Zach.
Taryn is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She left school early on Valentine's Day and went home to try on her prom dress. She says she would've been in a classroom targeted by a former fellow student and gunman Nikolas Cruz.
"Actually, my seat was right in front of the door panel that he shot through, and the boy who sat in front of me is no longer with us, and the girl who sat on the other side of me, she didn't make it either. In the videos, you can see the bullets go right through my desk and it's just something, something crazy," said Taryn.
Zach was at the school when gunshots rang out. He remembered conversations he'd had with his mom about IF this ever happened to run and hide. He calmed his classmates as they hid in the closet of his math class.
"Those 17 kids, they all had futures ahead of them. They all were going to get jobs and get married, hopefully, and have kids and have a family and now all of those dreams are gone and that is shattered and it's because of one terrible kid,” said Zach.
Taryn and Zach did not suffer physical injury, but the emotional damage is turning them into activists. They say they don’t want this to keep happening and are pleading that politicians take action either by changing gun policies or better equipping teachers to protect students.
"I have to go to a funeral tonight for one of my friends who was sitting next to me and I don't think anybody should have to feel what their families are feeling or what anybody in the community is feeling. All they did was send their kids to school and I really don't think that anybody should have to feel as broken and abandoned as the people are feeling now. This could've been prevented and we need to take action," said Taryn.
A number of education organizations are calling on schools to organize nationwide protests on April 20th, the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.