After the school shooting that left 17 victims dead and 15 more injured, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas H.S. are not allowing themselves to be passive victims of a preventable tragedy. They are speaking out and calling on American lawmakers to put human lives before politics and take real action against gun violence.
After a widely-covered shooting like this one — because for every shooting we hear about, there are several we don’t — politicians will talk for about a week about what needs to change and then nothing gets done. Then there are the arguments from people who don’t want to change gun laws — “give the families time to grieve,” “people will get guns anyway,” “this isn’t a gun issue, it’s a [blank] issue.”
So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2018
Democrats are usually pretty insistent on tighter gun regulation, but the Republicans hold the U.S. House and Senate right now, so any legislation would require their participation and leadership. That’s pretty unlikely since most elected Republican lawmakers and the party itself receives funding from the National Rifle Association.
That turns an issue about saving human lives into an issue about money, power and policy. It’s what makes Donald Trump speak about mental health when consoling the country and not about keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. That’s where these student survivors come in. They aren’t beholden to the NRA and they’re tired of politicians using that as an excuse for not touching gun control while people are dying.
Students have been speaking to reporters for the two days since the shooting, making emotional pleas to lawmakers and letting them know that they will be holding them accountable. They may may be too young to vote right now, but these teens have a message.
“Some of our policymakers and some people need to — they need to look in the mirror and take some action because ideas are great but without action, ideas stay ideas and children die,” 17-year-old student journalist David Hogg told CNN, “We’re children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done.”
Whoa. David Hogg, survivor of Florida school shooting:
— Holly Figueroa O’Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) February 15, 2018
Seventeen-year-old Cameron Kasky told Anderson Cooper that Donald Trump’s call to look at mental health while ignoring the glaringly-obvious gun problem is just a red herring to keep the gun debate quiet. He also wrote an opinion piece for CNN saying that his generation won’t stand for it.
“Everything I’ve heard where ‘we can’t do anything and this is just out of our hands, it’s inevitable,’ I think that’s a facade that the GOP is putting up. I think that’s what they want us to think,” he said, “This is the only country where this kind of thing happens … this is something that can be stopped. This is something that will be stopped.”
17-year-old Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky says he thinks lawmakers are using the mental health discussion “to get out of discussing gun control” https://t.co/fJgEpM6H1O https://t.co/UKG56OLypU
— CNN (@CNN) February 16, 2018
A lot of students took cell phone videos of the graphic scene as the attack played out and student Isabelle Robinson told Cooper that she wants people to see that footage to understand how terrifying the experience was for students who were hiding for hours in fear for their lives.
“I think people are seeing more of what actually happened. My friend David took a video of me cowering in a closet and it’s on the news and I want people to see that and see that’s the closet we were in,” she said, “Because if they don’t see it, they’re going to forget.” Her classmate Emma Gonzalez reminded political leaders that their responsibility is to their citizens, not the National Rifle Association.
“We are not to be bought by the NRA,” she said, “[The government is] not supposed to be listening to the NRA about our protection. They’re supposed to be listening to the people who are getting hurt about our protection. We are the ones who deserve to be kept safe because we were literally shot at.”
Parkland student: “We are not to be bought by the NRA. … We are the ones who deserve to be kept safe because we were literally shot at” https://t.co/5yk1EL23q4
— CNN (@CNN) February 16, 2018
Some students also responded to a tweet from Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren who said the issue “isn’t about a gun it’s about another lunatic” and questioned if “the Left” could allow the families of victims time to grieve before launching into the gun control debate. The survivors don’t seem to want to take time. They want to use the moment to create real change and told Lahren so on Twitter.
Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gunowner agenda? My goodness. This isn’t about a gun it’s about another lunatic. #FloridaShooting
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) February 15, 2018
A gun has killed 17 of my fellow classmates. A gun has traumatized my friends. My entire school, traumatized from this tragedy. This could have been prevented. Please stfu tomi https://t.co/qNo03ZE3Ev
— kyra (@longlivekcx) February 15, 2018
I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours. It was about guns. You weren’t there, you don’t know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns. https://t.co/XnzhvuN1zd
— carly (@car_nove) February 15, 2018
This is my grandpa. When he was 12 years old, he hid in a closet while his family was murdered during the first mass shooting in America. Almost 70 years later, I also hid in a closet from a murderer. These events shouldn’t be repetitive. Something has to change. #douglasstrong pic.twitter.com/nDctTNlUNs
— carly (@car_nove) February 15, 2018
Student Carly Novell, who tweeted the story of her grandfather hiding during a mass shooting 70 years ago, also responded to the Lahren’s comment on CNN the next day. She’s tired of the politics. She just wants a safe country.
“I don’t think it’s about any sides of political parties … children died,” she said, “It doesn’t matter what side of the gun control argument you’re on. People are dead.”
“I don’t think it should be someone else’s choice about when we talk about it,” she added, “It’s something that is so sad. It happened at our school. People are gone and we need to talk about it because there’s people dead. And there’s been people dead because of shooting after shooting.”
“I don’t think it’s about any sides of political parties … Children died. It doesn’t matter what side of the gun control argument you’re on. People are dead”: Survivor Carly Novell responds to Tomi Lahren’s post-Florida shooting tweet about “the Left” https://t.co/exVDPYsAhY
— New Day (@NewDay) February 16, 2018
These kids are doing what dozens of American lawmakers are refusing to do. They are speaking out against a system that is actively killing citizens and ruining lives. If lawmakers can’t listen to each other, maybe they can listen to the children who are watching their friends die as a result of lax gun laws.
“17 killed” is slowly turning into real names of real people we saw everyday and that is a terrifying reality
— ashleigh🦅 (@ashleighallman_) February 15, 2018
Our friends, our classmates, we grew up with these people I just can’t wrap my head around it all
— Steph (@ohstephany_) February 15, 2018