By CASSANDRA GILBERT
As a bus full of Parkland, Florida school-shooting survivors headed out on a 10- hour ride to the state capitol in Tallahassee on Feb. 20, Florida legislators voted not to even debate a bill to ban AR-15s.
The school shooting on Feb. 14 left 17 dead, three faculty members and 14 students. Seven of these students were 14 years old. At least 15 more people were injured.
The survivors are not leaving it up to their parents or other adults to fix the problem. These students have seen how school shootings have been handled in the past. Even though many of them aren’t yet of voting age, they are actively taking a stance and speaking out against gun violence. They are pushing for “common sense” gun laws.
While still mourning the loss of their friends, these students have given powerful speeches to crowds, gone on talk shows, given interviews and taken to social media. But they aren’t stopping there.
These students are directing the national conversation in a way that hasn’t been done before. They refuse to accept the pattern that follows these events. Instead, they combat any conservative who has tried the regular deflections like “this is no time to talk about gun control.” They use their experience to remind the public that they are the only ones who know first hand what it was like, and what is or isn’t appropriate to talk about.
So far, among their protests, these students have organized a nationwide school walkout and planned the “March for Our Lives” on Washington D.C., and have also inspired students throughout the country to speak out.
Teenagers in D.C. staged a “lie in” in solidarity with the Parkland students, and students at another Florida school staged a walk-out and then walked the ten miles to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
There have been many school shootings over the years, but no matter how catastrophic the outcome, the pattern of response has always remained the same. It seems the Parkland students, however, have incited a national uprising, tackling the topic in a way the country had not yet seen.
These teenagers are not backing down and refuse to let their age or the criticisms by adults hinder their e orts. They have vowed that they will not let the country forget this tragedy. They have decided that they will try to make it into the history books as the last school shooting victims.