We were in our sixth-period journalism class when we got the notification.
Reports of an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Multiple casualties reported.
It’s a notification all students fear, yet receive far too often.
By the end of that Valentine’s day, we would learn that 17 had been killed, and 15 more wounded. Most of the victims were the same age as us. High schoolers. Gunned down in their classroom.
And thus began the all too familiar cycle events that follow these massacres: Politicians tweet their “thoughts and prayers.” Outraged citizens call for comprehensive gun reform. Nothing happens. We wait for the next shooter to strike. The next mass shooting notification pops up on our phones, and the cycle of inaction towards senseless and preventable gun violence is complete.
But something about Parkland feels different. Something about this tragedy feels poised to break this stagnant cycle of inaction.
With other similar incidents, the gun conversation has come and gone quickly.
The gun conversation following Las Vegas last October, the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history, came and went. The church shooting in Sutherland Springs in our very own state of Texas seemed to fade into the headlines after a few days.
But now, almost two weeks since Parkland, the conversation has only begun, and it’s a conversation led by the students who survived the shooting themselves.
The progress made by the Stoneman Douglas students since terror struck the halls of their high school is nothing short of remarkable.
Within a week of the massacre, Stoneman Douglas students sat in the White House sharing their terrifying, yet inspiring and important stories with President Trump.
Stoneman Douglas students demanded change in front of a nationwide audience on CNN’s February 21 Town Hall.
Stoneman Douglas junior Cameron Kasky looked Florida Senator Marco Rubio directly in the eye, asking his representative to pledge he will never accept another donation from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Stoneman Douglas students have organized and planned a nationwide march, called the “March for Our Lives, set for March 24 in opposition to gun violence.
Stoneman Douglas students are using their voices to fight for their 17 perished classmates and teachers, and in doing so, they have given students across the country a voice too.
Thanks to them, the concerns of high school students can no longer be ignored. The teenagers of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have shown that students are a strong political lobby, and students are a powerful and necessary lobby.
Such a horrible tragedy takes time to process, but while we attempt to make sense of what happened in Parkland, we as students have an immediate responsibility to ensure the courageous and incredible actions of the Stoneman Douglas students do not go to waste.
In the wake of this event and the landmark response from these teenagers, we have a unique chance and responsibility to follow their lead and work to create change alongside them.
If we fail to do so, the same cycle of inaction towards gun violence will continue to plague our nation, and it will only be a matter of time before we receive the next phone notification.
Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, Peter Wang and every other victim of senseless gun violence in the United States are watching.
How will we respond?
WAYS TO RESPOND TO THE PARKLAND SHOOTING
Although voting is one of the best ways to drive change, one does not have to be 18 to be politically involved.
- Write to your Texas Senators and Representatives. Find who to contact here.
- Donate to the official GoFundMefor Douglas’ victims.
- Text 50409 to contact your officials via Resistbot.
- On March 14, participate in the ##NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am.
- On March 24, attend the Dallas March for Our Lives.
- On April 20, participate in the National High School Walk-out for Anti-Gun Violence.
Photo from Palm Beach Post