The nation's top education official and one of the highest-ranking members of Congress this week visited the scene of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and said what they saw and were told was "impactful" and "extremely emotional and powerful."

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the House, on separate days walked through the now-shuttered school building in Parkland and then hosted a gun-violence prevention policy roundtable discussion at a nearby hotel in Coral Springs.

"It was extremely emotional and powerful to walk through that building that is a time capsule of Feb. 14, 2018," Clark said Thursday evening. "It's a powerful reminder that gun violence in this country is a choice we are making, that we do have the ability to prevent deaths like we saw, the 17 we lost here."

That echoed what the education secretary said Monday.

"To say that this morning was one of the more impactful experiences of my life is an understatement," Cardona said. "Quite frankly, I couldn't help while walking with families through the building, I couldn't help but ask God why he wanted me here. What can I do with this experience to help protect students, and families and educators?"

Tour followed by a roundtable discussion on gun violence protection measures

Both Cardona and Clark thanked the parents and loved ones of the 17 students and staff who were killed and walked through the building with them. Cardona and Clark noted their courage and strength as being in the facility meant reliving the trauma and pain of that day.

Those include providing schools with trained mental-health counselors, automatic locks on doors, film on classroom windows and armed guardians trained by local police in using a firearm in an active-shooter crisis.

They also include broader community actions, such as putting red flag laws in place to remove weaponry from those judged by courts to be potentially dangerous for various reasons and curtailing the availability of assault weapons, which both Cardona and Clark called weapons of war.

Why do officials tour the building where mass shooting took place?

Congressman Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat who represents a district that includes Parkland and parts of Palm Beach County, has been facilitating the tours with government officials.

Moskowitz said in a December interview that he believes, despite the polarization and intransigence on Capitol Hill, there is still an opportunity to enact "incremental" changes on issues like red flag laws that together would be meaningful.

"Everything we do is saving a life," he said.

As a Democratic state lawmaker, Moskowitz worked with then-Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, and the GOP-majority Florida Legislature to enact gun safety measures after the 2018 tragedy.

Moskowitz, who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, said he arranges the tours of the Parkland high school building because it's a "dramatic teaching event" for the elected officials and policy-makers to see the site.

"That's why I've taken Democrats and Republicans through the building," he said. "We'll do as many as we can, because there's no better teacher to see the failures in that building."

The building is set to be torn down this coming summer.


Original story HERE.