The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida has without a doubt shaken our nation to it’s core. On February 14th, 2018, it seemed as if all of America wept as we learned that 17 high schooler had been massacred by an insane 19 year old man with an AR-15. The shooting once more brought the issue of gun control into the spotlight of American politics as politicians and pundits from both parties rushed to defend their respective beliefs. However, both party’s voices have been drowned out by another group: the survivors of the shooting. In the days following the shooting in Parkland, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas held a massive rally for gun control and bused all the way down to the state capital in Tallahassee. Here they met with the state legislature to discuss gun control and held another mid-day rally.
The heavy news coverage on these brave students has inspired many more students across the country to join the conversation on gun control. Ever since the day of the shooting, students throughout the nation have staged walkouts in solidarity with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and in protest of Congress’ lack of work on gun control.
This new wave of youth activism around the nation has led many people to ask the question, “Will this finally lead to real change?” The answer, in my opinion, is yes. In a time where political activism is at it’s highest as a result of the 2016 elections, America’s youth is starting to recognize that their voice can have a real impact on society. Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior Emma Gonzalez said the following in a speech during a rally:
“Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see.”
The video and transcript of Emma Gonzalez’ Speech can be found here.
While many students are enjoying their right to protest by walking out of their schools in support of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, there are some school administrations seeking to steal that right away. 100 students from West Aurora School district in Aurora, Illinois will face detention for their walkout.
Students are making their voices heard loud and clear to the government, and for what seems like the first time in years, the government is listening. On February 22, Oregon’s state legislature banned people convicted of stalking and domestic violence from buying or owning firearms and ammunition. This legislation passed by Oregon’s government marks the first step on the road to meaningful gun control.