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Protesters Demand Portman Donate NRA Money To Gun Victims

Wednesday's school shooting in Parkland, Fla., which killed 17 people and injured several others, is putting unwelcome pressure on Ohio’s junior Senator.  Republican Sen. Rob Portman is among the top 10 recipients of National Rifle Association campaign contributions in the country.

In front of Portman’s Columbus office on Thursday, about two dozen demonstrators gathered to protest the Senator's stance on gun laws. On Wednesday, Portman tweeted that he would send prayers to the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Portman has accepted $3,061,941 from the NRA—the eighth most among sitting House and Senate members. Organizers argue Portman should donate that money to victims of gun violence. 

Carolina Lopez-Ruiz, who teaches at The Ohio State University, she says the shooting reminds her of last year’s car-and-knife attackon campus. 

“I wasn’t teaching but it is a possibility that I could have to lockdown 700 people there for hours, not to mention have somebody come in and start shooting," Lopez-Ruiz says.

On the morning of Nov. 28, 2016, a student drove his car into a crowd of students and began attacking pedestrians with a butcher knife. Thirteen students and faculty were injured, but no person except the attacker was killed.

“What do you do?” she asks. “We’re not trained for that, and we shouldn’t live with that fear.”

Retired teacher Rebecca Slisher still remembers going to work after Columbine, and she says each shooting rattles teachers.

"My friend who just—she just sent me this text message coming here,” Slisher says. “And she's at school today, and just said I had the worst nightmare ever. I am so afraid."

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.