By Sarah Carlon
On Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida, 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were killed in one of the deadliest school shootings in the United States. This shooting has sparked some of the most serious and passionate debates about gun control in years. At the heart of this movement isn’t politicians or celebrities, but rather the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School themselves.
Within just a few days after the shooting, students created an organization that advocated for stricter gun regulation called Never Again MSD. Taking to social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, the survivors went viral with the hashtag #NeverAgain, which the students used to share their experiences as well as advocate for tighter gun control laws.
Never Again MSD held a rally on Feb. 17 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, which was attended by hundreds of supporters. Students also planned the “March for Our Lives” on March 24, where they will march on Washington to demand gun reform. It was at the Feb. 17 rally that Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Emma González gave a speech condemning politicians who tweeted their condolences, thoughts, and prayers to the survivors, but have not pushed for changes to gun control legislation.
“Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see,” González said. “If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.”
The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas appeared last week at a CNN town hall in Sunrise, Florida, where they were able to confront politicians and NRA representatives directly about the lack of change when it comes to gun control. Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida notably bore the brunt of the attacks for his widely known support of and from the NRA. Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was among the 17 killed in the shooting, said to Rubio, “So you and I are now eye to eye. Because I want to like you. Look at me and tell me. Guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week. And look at me and tell me you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns.”
“We can’t ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky wrote in an editorial published on CNN. “And so, I’m asking – no, demanding – we take action now.”