After Florida school shooting left 17 dead, students say #NeverAgain
By Sam Mathers, News Editor
There have already been forty-one mass shootings in the United States this year. Forty-one mass shootings in the last two months. With each tragedy comes a cry for change, met with no real action. As the death toll steadily increases, the rest of the world is left wondering why the American people are so fervently protective of the Second Amendment. In fact, political commentator Dan Hodges said in a tweet: “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.” However, this time, a new group of individuals has emerged, stating that they will not allow another kid to be the victim of a mass shooting. This time, it is the kids themselves.
On Valentine’s Day, Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and pulled the fire alarm. Thinking it was a drill, students and teachers emerged from their classrooms and Cruz began to shoot, leaving seventeen people dead and injuring fourteen others.
In the wake of the shooting, students were interviewed by various news outlets and it was not long before the world began to take notice of their eloquence and quickness to demand reform.
Seventeen-year-old Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the Florida shooting, was locked in a room with twenty other students and a teacher. In an op-ed for CNN, Kasky wrote: “We huddled in a room, listening to terrifying noises we couldn’t quite identify, and spent an hour plagued by uncontrolled anxiety … waiting for answers. Waiting for somebody to either come in and shoot us or come in and tell us everything was going to be OK.”
High school senior Emma González spoke at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale three days after the shooting, giving an impassioned and emotionally driven speech that quickly went viral. González said: “I watched an interview this morning and noticed that one of the questions was, ‘do you think your children will have to go through other school shooter drills?’ and our response is that our neighbours will not have to go through other school shooter drills when we have had our say with the government…we are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we are going to be another statistic about mass shootings in America, but because as Justice David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting.”
Kasky and González, along with several other Stoneman Douglas students have started the #NeverAgain movement with their first organized protest, a march on the Florida State Capitol, on February 20. One hundred students and several parents were bussed to Tallahassee where the House was considering a bill that would ban assault weapons. The bill was voted against.
The students have been gaining global attention and have been receiving messages of support from celebrities and politicians across the United States. They are currently planning a national demonstration in collaboration with the non-profit, Everytown for Gun Safety, called March for Our Lives. Its mission “is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues.”
In her speech at the rally, González challenged the stereotypes of the typical American teenager, saying: “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 B.S. 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 B.S. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call B.S. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call B.S. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call B.S. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call B.S. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call B.S.”
While the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas are making their voices heard, many of them are not yet old enough to use their voices at the polls. In his op-ed, Kasky wrote: “Please do it for me. Do it for my fellow classmates. We can’t vote, but you can, so make it count.”
The March for Our Lives is set to take place in Washington D.C. on March 24th to give students and families a chance to mourn before they take action on gun control.