In the days after the horrific massacre at a high school in Florida, the most eloquent responses came not from police, parents or politicians, but from high schoolers themselves.

Overnight, teenagers in Washington staged a dramatic "lie-in" outside the White House to demand that elected representatives take some action on gun control.

About 100 students took part in the powerful protest, which saw them lie on their backs across the pavement in a stark reminder of the lives lost to gun violence, according to news.com.au.

Demonstrators participate in a 'lie-in' during a protest in favour of gun control reform in front of the White House. Photo / AP
Demonstrators participate in a 'lie-in' during a protest in favour of gun control reform in front of the White House. Photo / AP

Some chanted "shame on you", while others carried American flags or signs that read, "More guns, more murder".

Advertisement

Maya Smith, 15, told AFP she feared for her life when she walked into school "because the government won't decide that my life matters as much as the right to bear arms matters".

High school student Juneau Wang added: "Students should be worrying about a bad test grade, not the fact that someone could walk in with an AR-15 any time during the school day."

Abby Spangler and her daughter Eleanor Spangler Neuchterlein, 16, hold hands as they participate in the demonstration. Photo / AP
Abby Spangler and her daughter Eleanor Spangler Neuchterlein, 16, hold hands as they participate in the demonstration. Photo / AP

Ella Fesler, 16, told AP: "Every day when I say 'bye' to my parents, I do acknowledge the fact that I could never see my parents again."

It's possible that the students' impassioned pleas are already having an effect on the man in charge.

President Donald Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said overnight he was "supportive" of efforts to strengthen the background check system for those buying guns.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 students and teachers in Wednesday's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, bought a AR-15 semiautomatic rifle legally, despite numerous red flags that suggested he was mentally ill.

Mr Cruz appeared in court again overnight for a short procedural hearing. He sat silently with his head down for most of the proceedings.

Meanwhile, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived the shooting are organising a mass rally for gun control on March 24, called the "March For Our Lives".

"This isn't about the GOP," year 11 student Cameron Kasky told ABC News, using the Republican Party's nickname of the Grand Old Party. "This isn't about the Democrats. This is about the adults.

"We feel neglected and at this point, you're either with us or against us."

He said he also wanted to "create a new normal where there's a badge of shame on any politician who's accepting money" from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

"Any politician on either side who is taking money from the NRA is responsible for events like this," he said.

"At the end of the day, the NRA is fostering and promoting this gun culture."

Mr Trump will host a "listening session" with students on gun control issues on Wednesday.