Joely Feder ’19
It has been just over a month since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people are dead. The nation hasn’t forgotten.
Since the recent tragedy, students have stepped up immensely in the fight to end gun violence. On March 14, millions of students around America walked out of school to protest school shootings. Among other demonstrations, activists also hosted “die-ins,” in which people lay down to symbolize death–showing the impact of gun violence and other powerful shows of the emptiness left by massacres like Parkland–hundreds of pairs of shoes on the White House lawn, vacant desks outside of state capital buildings and more.
On March 24, the country mobilized. Millions of people attended the March for Our Lives march in D.C., and hundreds of sister marches around the globe, too.
Students continue to lead this movement. Teen survivors of Parkland are speaking up. Siblings of those who passed in Sandy Hook are making their voices heard. Even survivors of events like Columbine, a shooting that happened almost twenty years ago, are speaking out against gun violence.
There is a social movement happening and as students, we can be the change.
But most high school students cannot yet vote. All we can do is use our voices to influence lawmakers and legal voters. So, what is being done in government surrounding gun violence?
There is a heightened debate going on around what to do to stop this issue: everyone agrees that it must end. There is not disagreement there: when students die, no one is ever happy. Communities come together to support each other, people speak out about their experiences and many go on to fight for what they believe must be done to end gun violence. The issue is that many disagree about how to make this change. Some argue for stricter gun control while others say arming teachers is the way to go.
These disagreements are reflected in the bill that Florida Governor Rick Scott signed on March 9. Senate Bill 7026 takes many measures toward stricter gun control, like raising the legal age to buy a firearm to 21 from 18. On the other hand, it also allows teachers to be armed under certain provisions: if school districts and sheriff departments are in agreement about doing so.
Most measures against gun violence are being taken at the state level. This is why we aren’t seeing much national or federal law changes (although the issue of bump-stocks is being debated at the federal level), but instead we are seeing individual state-reforms such as in Florida. Other states who have made gun violence reforms are: Oregon, Washington and Rhode Island, all signing bills into place that heighten gun control.
The debate over gun control continues, but there is one powerful message being blasted into every office of every lawmaker: students’ lives matter.
Everyone wants this horrific violence to end, but only the laws and reforms coming into place in the next few months will tell how America feels it can protect students from any future gun violence.