For the students, by the students

Students all over the nation join in support of the victims of the Florida school shooting in order to invoke gun control reform.

Nearly three weeks ago, on Wednesday, February 14, there was yet another mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a former student opened fire on the students with an AR-15 style rifle.  During the shooting, 17 people were killed and 15 injured, many of them students.  This shooting has replaced the 1999 Columbine shooting as the deadliest school shooting, and has been the deadliest mass shooting so far this year– we are only two months into 2018.  This school shooting was the 30th mass shooting of 2018, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and it brought the number of school shootings in 2018 to 18, according to the gun control advocacy group, Everytown for Gun Safety.  Americans are more likely to die of gun violence than many other leading causes of death combined– and it seems that even being at school does not protect Americans from this violent and preventable form of death.

Despite this tragedy, there is a silver lining found within it.  The students who have survived the shooting are standing up to politicians, especially the Republican party, demanding gun control.  They are utilizing various social media and news platforms, sharing their experience and demanding gun reform from Congress.  These students are brave, outspoken, and will change America.  These children are the future, and they are already stirring up change.

These students are calling for action from their representatives and demanding that President Trump takes action to prevent America’s children–America’s future, from gun violence.  They have organized a nationwide school walk out that will take place on March 14, and will occur at 10 am lasting 17 minutes, one minute per life lost in the shooting.  The students, among others, have also organized the March For Our Lives that will take place on March 24 and will demand our government to take action against gun violence and will demand politicians to protect their citizens.      

The bravery from these students has spread to students and teachers nationwide, encouraging others to demand action to prevent another school shooting from happening again–something that should not even exist, but occurs almost regularly in America.  “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough, since after every shooting that seems to be the only “action” of many Republican politicians, especially America’s president.  In fact, Trump visited the victims of the Florida shooting in the hospital and posed with the students laid in their hospital beds, with a big smile and a thumbs up, like he was posing with one of his good friends after his millionth game of golf.  To top it off, only hours after visiting the victims and their families–who have lost 17 members of their community, Trump attended a Studio-54 themed party at Mar-a-Lago, according to The Huffington Post, which further proves his heartlessness and unwillingness to take action against gun violence.  

In a speech by shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez, who is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, addressing America’s politicians, she said, “We are going to be the kids you read about in the 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. Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law. That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it’s going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all the students. The students who are dead, the students still in the hospital, the students now suffering [from] PTSD, the students who had panic attacks during the vigil because the helicopters would not leave us alone, hovering over the school for 24 hours a day.”

These students– our generation– will be the people who change America for the better and evoke legislation, especially legislation regarding gun control.  According to a poll by Quinnipiac University, reported on by NBC, 66% of Americans support stricter gun control regulations, and 67% support a ban on assault-style weapons.  

When over a majority of American citizens support legislation, and nothing has been done within Congress to reflect this view, it is a question if America’s government is truly, “For the people, by the people.” ”

However, midterm elections are approaching in November, and people like us can vote, the parents of the victims are of age and many of the survivors are turning 18 this year, and we can evoke change.  We can elect Representatives and Senators who represent us and will protect American lives– student’s lives– from preventable gun violence.  Gun control does not mean a ban on all guns, but it is time to amend the Second Amendment, something that was created when hunting and protection from invaders was necessary– when semi-automatic and assault-style weapons did not exist.  It is time for change, and we as students, as American citizens, and as people who deserve a government that respects our demands, since we are the ones who gave them that power, need to take to the voting booths, take to the streets in protest, and demand immediate change.  

Your Turn: How do you think teenagers can contribute to and evoke change within their communities? Do you think you have a role in fighting for gun control as a parent, a teacher, or a student? How will you take action to prevent further mass shootings, especially school shootings?