On February 14, 2018, a tragic event shook the nation, a shooter went into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 students and teachers. This is not the first time our country has received news such as this. Our nation has been shocked with news from Columbine High School, Virginia Tech University, and Sandy Hook Elementary School, and we as a nation were sad for a week and then recovered. This time, something was different. The students at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School didn’t sit around and wait for everyone to recover, they decided to make a difference. Immediately after the shooting, students took a stand, against our government, against the NRA, and against our nation in order to prevent tragic events from happening in the future.
In the past, Twitter posts would consist of “thoughts and prayers,” but this time students took to social media creating the twitter trending hashtag “#NeverAgain.” Never again, what does that mean? Does it mean that school shootings will never happen again because of a hashtag? No, it means this hashtag will raise awareness for major issues such as gun control to prevent school shootings in the future.
Not only is this hashtag bringing awareness, petitions are being organized, nationwide walk outs are being organized, and change is being made. Emma González, a senior at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, delivered the “We call BS” speech at an anti-gun rally calling out President Trump and his hypocrisy towards gun control. This speech has gained Ms. González over one million Twitter followers where she uses her platform for change. González was also a part of the group of students who spoke out for gun control at the CNN Town Hall. She questioned the NRA (National Rifle Association) spokeswoman, Dana Loesch against her views on gun advocacy. The NRA is an American nonprofit organization that advocates for gun rights, using their profits to donate to different members of congress to shift their views on gun control. Emma González’s classmate, Cameron Kasky pressed Florida senator, Marco Rubio, with the questions involving funding from the NRA that Rubio was receiving. Even our president, Donald Trump, has accepted over $30 million from the NRA. The NRA has spent $137,126 in direct and outside support to help Bob Goodlatte, the representative in Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes Roanoke, VA, win the congressional election.
The Parkland, Florida school shooting has prompted change among many retail stores selling firearms. The change started with Dick’s Sporting Goods when they took all assault-style rifles off shelves and when the store raised the minimum age to buy a gun to 21-years-old. Many stores followed in their footsteps by raising the age to buy a gun and prohibiting the sale of assault-style-rifles including Walmart, L.L. Bean, and Kroger. Hopefully, this change will be spread to all retail stores which sell firearms and make the access to assault-style-rifles harder to obtain.
The issue of safety is the main concern of the nation right now. It is not okay that people don’t feel safe going to movie theaters, concerts, or even school in fear of being killed. The answer is not to arm teachers, bringing more guns into the school, or to arm retired veterans, most likely with PTSD, and have them stand outside of our schools. The answer is, and will always be gun control. There needs to be rules on how you can get a gun, what requirements you need, and what background checks in physical and mental health and criminal records. Mental health is a huge part of mass shootings and it should be monitored and checked thoroughly before anyone is able to purchase a weapon. Many shooters show a multitude of signs of their future actions before they’re committed and need to be closely monitored. The purchase of guns at any private show or of private trade should be illegal due to the lack of background checks needed to purchase the weapon. If it is still legal, then at least the guns must be registered and checks must be done. The materials needed to make weapons automatic need to be monitored and watched if someone is buying them. Also, there is no reason that anyone other than people in the military should need an automatic weapon, so if anyone is attempting to make an automatic weapon, they should be thoroughly watched. The amount of guns people are buying should also be monitored. Who in the world needs 5 guns? No one, but if they actually do for some reason or another need 5 or more guns then they can explain that when they are filling out the requirements that should be there to purchase a gun. All of these things are to protect our children and citizens, and this is what gun control is all about. People who advocate for gun control don’t want to “take away your 2nd amendment,” they just want to make our country safer. Even though there have been a multitude of countries who have done studies after banning guns (they’ve have very little to no mass shootings by the way), the constitution is a very important American ideology and we shouldn’t take away the rights of our citizens. But even with that, the 2nd amendment was made at a time with no military grade weapons being accessible to civilians and some things need to be changed. I’m sure our founding fathers were not intending on having weapons that could kill 17 people in five minutes in the hands of our citizens, and if they somehow had a time machine to see into the future, they would have constructed the 2nd amendment a lot differently.
The nation-wide talk about gun control has prompted change. Change that has been needed in our country for over a decade. The shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School is and will forever be a tragedy, but it is also a beacon of hope. Hope that in the United States of America, schools will be safer, concerts will be safer, movie theatres will be safer, living will be safer for every citizen. As the students of Majory Stoneman Douglas High School band together from this tragedy, we as a country stand with them and this time we will not stand down.
If you want to help spread your voice on gun control, join the nation-wide walk out, March 14th at 10 am. Walk out of school for 17 minutes in remembrance of the 17 lives that were taken in Parkland. Make a stand against our government and the NRA, make change in our community. Every voice counts. March for your life.