Parkland Speaks Out

Emily Dozier, Staff Writer

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February 14th, 2018, is a day that will never be forgotten. On that Valentine’s Day, a 19-year old gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He was armed with an AR-15, a military-style semi-automatic rifle, similar to those used in other mass shootings, including the Pulse Nightclub, Sandy Hook Elementary, and the Las Vegas massacre. 14 students were killed in the MSD rampage, as well as a teacher, an assistant football coach, and the school’s athletic director. However, dozens of survivors have since used their pain and anger from the tragedy and turned it into a movement that has inspired students across the nation to fight for gun control.

Faces of the “Never Again” movement include Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, and Sarah Chadwick, as well as countless other students. Most use Twitter to speak out against politicians who accept money from the National Rifle Association, as well as the organization itself for its refusal to protect scared school children. Unfortunately for the NRA, it is hard to out-tweet dozens of teenagers who have grown up in the age of social media, adding to the new generation’s powerful influence. These student-turned-activists even persuaded large companies, such as Delta, MetLife, Alamo, Hertz, and multiple others, to cut ties with the NRA in order to avoid boycotts over the partnerships. Still, Amazon and FedEx, in particular, are now facing consequences from the outraged public over the companies’ refusal to end their partnerships with the NRA.

On February 21st, CNN held a town hall meeting in Broward County, Florida, for the survivors to discuss gun control with an NRA spokesperson, Dana Loesch, as well as Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Bill Nelson, and Representative Ted Deutch. There, the outspoken Gonzalez questioned Loesch about bump stocks and the accessibility to fatal weapons. Rubio was repeatedly bombarded with questions from students regarding the Florida legislature’s next step in gun control. Kasky, a junior at Stoneman Douglas, even asked Rubio to stop accepting money from the NRA, to which he received applause from the audience. Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed, made an appearance at the discussion. He took a stab at the Senator himself, saying, “Your comments this week and those of our President have been pathetically weak.” The grieving father was rewarded nothing but cheers from the ecstatic crowd.

One of the biggest accomplishments of the Parkland students is the “March For Our Lives,” set to happen on March 24, in Washington, DC. 400 sibling marches have also been organized in large cities such as Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, and as far away as London. Hundreds of thousands of people plan to attend and participate in one of the largest student-led protests the nation has seen. The “March For Our Lives” intends to convince the government that a ban on assault-style weapons is essential to the protection of schools and children. It also calls for more thorough background checks on potential buyers and other precautionary measures to prevent criminal access to rifles.

The extraordinary Parkland survivors are using their voices to make sure the seventeen lives that were lost will never be forgotten. They acknowledge their positions and use the advantage to ensure that other, less privileged, activists are heard as well. This new generation is determined to fight until the battle has been won, and they will not stop until they can be certain that no other student is afraid to go to school.

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