Vigils held for Florida victims as gun debates continue

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Vigils held for Florida victims as gun debates continue Vigils held for Florida victims as gun debates continue
NEWARK -

A prayer vigil was held Thursday at a school in Newark to honor and remember the 17 victims of the Florida school shooting as the debate about guns and gun control wages on.

Organizers of the vigil at Hernandez Elementary School say that the gathering was a chance to speak for the victims, as well as a chance to speak out against gun violence.

Principal Patricia Gois started the conversation inside the school assembly hall, while a student stood for each victim.

The 17 students and staff members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida were killed during a Valentine’s Day mass shooting. The suspect was a former student who allegedly used an AR-15 rifle to commit the slayings.

As vigils are held across the country for the victims, President Donald Trump suggested Thursday that arming teachers was one possible way to stop school shootings.

RELATED: New Jersey's biggest teacher's union opposes arming teachers
RELATED: President Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weapons
RELATED: 4 US governors, including Murphy, join forces on gun safety

“These people are cowards. They’re not going to walk into a school if 20 percent of the teachers have guns,” the president said.

It was a similar sentiment to what NRA leader Wayne LaPierre had been saying at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

"To stop a bad guy with a gun it takes a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said.

But that idea has brought mixed reactions to the public. The New Jersey Education Association released a statement against arming teachers.

"It is time to put the safety of our children and staff ahead of the profits of gun manufacturers. Quite simply, we must get guns out of our schools and keep them out,” the head of the NJEA said in a statement.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday that New Jersey would join a coalition of states to end the flow of guns from southern states to the northeast.

"A significant majority of crime guns in New Jersey, in fact I believe it's widely viewed to be 80 percent, come from out of state,” Murphy said.

“States for Gun Safety” includes New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The states will be sharing information to make sure that if a person is barred from getting a gun in one state, they will be stopped in another.

President Trump did also say that he supports backgrounds checks, raising the age to buy a gun to 21 and banning the sale of bump stocks.

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