How teen shooting survivors are taking the lead on gun control
The past few days should go down in history as the first President’s Day weekend when teenagers took a more active role in protecting our most vulnerable citizens than the President of the United States did.
Ever since a student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last Wednesday and killed 17 people, survivors have been speaking out and organizing protests and rallies, both on social media and IRL.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump blamed the FBI’s Russia investigation for the shooting, and also went golfing. Sure, he found time to visit some of the shooting victims, but he also failed to mention gun control in any of his statements about Parkland.
It’s clear that the people of Parkland — especially the young people — are more determined to fix this country’s gun problem than anyone involved in the U.S. government is. And it looks like they’re not going to go away until something changes. The students of Stoneman Douglas are not only making themselves heard online and on TV. They’re also organizing rallies and protests over the next few months.
Here’s a rundown of what’s been done so far, what’s to come, and how you can help.
1. March 24th: #MarchForOurLives
Parkland survivors have organized a rally to take place on March 24th in Washington, DC, and all over the country.
“We are going to be marching together as students, begging for our lives,” Stoneman Douglas sophomore Cameron Kasky said on ABC, adding, “at this point, you are either with us or against us.”
Parkland students will lead the march in DC, but they encourage anyone who can’t make it to the nation’s capital to hold a march in their own communities.
“School safety is not a political issue,” the march’s mission statement reads. “There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing.”
Here’s a video of Cameron announcing the march on TV.
Stoneman Douglas students announce March for Our Lives on March 24. “One of the things we’ve been hearing is that it’s not the yet time to talk about gun control… so here’s the time we’re going to talk about gun control.” pic.twitter.com/CLUf6JM9fs
— Axios (@axios) February 18, 2018
2. April 20th: #NationalSchoolWalkout
Roughly a month after the march, Parkland students are spearheading a school walkout.
They encourage students throughout the U.S. to leave their classrooms at 10 a.m. and peacefully protest outside.
Sophomore Lane Murdock started the initiative and is working in solidarity with the Women’s March organizers, who are planning a similar walk-out in March.
3. A pledge to hold the NRA and politicians accountable
As part of his announcement of the march, Cameron Kasky said activists will now be naming and shaming any politicians that take money from the National Rifle Association, the powerful lobbying group that donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians in exchange for a lack of new gun laws.
“We are giving all our politicians a clean slate, he said. “And in the next election, we are saying if you are accepting money from the NRA, there is a badge of shame on you, because you are enabling things like this to happen.”
4. Emma Gonzalez’s speech
Stoneman Douglas senior Emma Gonzalez gave an impassioned speech over the weekend, surrounded by people from her school and community. In it, she called out politicians that accept donations from the NRA and she dismissed the idea that she and her classmates shouldn’t be taken seriously because of their youth:
“The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS. Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.”
She and her classmates, she said, “are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because… we are going to be the last mass shooting. We are going to change the law.”
5. Christine Yared’s New York Times op-ed
One student published a column in the New York Times explaining her experience and pleading with people in power to make a change. Christine’s parents left Lebanon to escape violence — only for their daughter to experience a shooting at a school they’d hand-picked because of its great reputation.
Here’s part of what Christine wrote:
“My parents worked hard to leave war-torn Lebanon so that their children would never have to experience the violence and loss that they did. My dad was a first-aid volunteer with the Lebanese Red Cross. He continued his engineering education, worked for General Electric in France and was transferred to the United States. … My parents chose Parkland to settle in because of Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s stellar reputation, and because we thought that it was a safe place to live. But that isn’t true anymore. The promise of safety and security failed us.”
6. A public call-out of Marco Rubio
Florida Senator Marco Rubio has called for several solutions to end mass shootings in the U.S., including background checks and “gun-violence restraining orders.” But Rubio has been a Senator since 2010, so many question why he has apparently been unable to move the needle on gun control yet.
In his TV appearance, Cameron Kasky told Marco Rubio there’s blood on the Senator’s hands.
Student from Stoneman Douglas addresses his senator, Marco Rubio:
“Our job is to go to school, learn and not take a bullet. You need to figure this out. That’s why you were unfortunately elected.” pic.twitter.com/BJ3et4rKrI
— Axios (@axios) February 18, 2018
7. Duking it out with the opposition on Twitter
Sarah Chadwick has been vocal on Twitter, taking on everyone from Trump to random Twitter trolls. She’s helping to elevate the marches and other students’ efforts as well.
To the politicians saying this isn’t about guns, and that we shouldn’t be discussing this rn:
We were literally being shot at while trying to gain an education. So this is about guns. You weren’t in the school while this was happening. We were, and we’re demanding change.
— Sarah Chadwick// #NEVERAGAIN (@sarahchad_) February 16, 2018
Kyra, a Twitter user who also says she’s a Parkland student, has been hitting back at criticism of herself and her activist classmates.
She took issue with Trump’s tweet. “My friends were brutally murdered and you have the nerve to make this about Russia,” she wrote. “I can not believe this.”
…my friends were brutally murdered and you have the nerve to make this about Russia. I can not believe this https://t.co/JoEasIsu3V
— kyra (@longlivekcx) February 18, 2018
This activated the hornet’s nest of Trump Twitter eggs who’ve no doubt been making her mentions a living hell since last week. Some had the nerve to suggest tweeting was taking up too much of her and her classmates’ time, when they “should” be grieving.
“Many of us have been attending funerals everyday since Friday,” she responded. “Having to see our friends in caskets is the reason why we are speaking up and making time for activism. So until you go through what we are going through, you have no right to criticize us.”
Many of us have been attending funerals everyday since Friday. Having to see our friends in caskets is the reason why we are speaking up and making time for activism. So until you go through what we are going through, you have no right to criticize us. https://t.co/L0bgL8Qrtt
— kyra (@longlivekcx) February 19, 2018
Hope Trump and Congress are paying full attention to all of this and coming up with a plan to get their shit together on gun control, because the bottom line is this:
teens working in concert to drag someone online is the most terrifying force on earth and donald trump doesn’t stand a motherfucking chance
— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) February 18, 2018