In the aftermath of the tragedy that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, the survivors of the mass shooting are speaking out and taking action. Witnessing the terrifying events of that day was enough for these high school students to be loud and clear in their unified call for stricter gun laws. There is generally strength in numbers when you want to get a message like that across, and those numbers will definitely be seen on March 24, 2018. That's when the Florida school shooting survivors' March For Our Lives will take on Washington's lack of action on gun control.
The march, which is demanding Congress improve gun control laws, was announced on Sunday, Feb. 18 — one day after students and parents rallied in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Feb. 17 to call for major changes to gun laws to help prevent mass shootings, according to NBC News. The students adopted the hashtag #NeverAgain to mark their hope that this Parkland tragedy is the last mass shooting children will ever have to endure in a school setting in the United States again. Speaking in response to the argument that now isn't the right time to talk policy, a junior at Stoneman Douglas, Cameron Kasky, told ABC News,
People are saying that it’s not time to talk about gun control. And we can respect that. Here’s a time. March 24th in every single city. We are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives.
Kasky was surrounded by his fellow classmates as he elaborated on the reason why this fight for gun control is so important to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Kasky told Martha Raddatz on the Feb. 18 episode of This Week about how this shooting makes students feel. He explained, "This isn't about the GOP. This isn't about the Democrats. This is about the adults. We feel neglected and at this point, you're either with us or against us."
The students are calling it "March For Our Lives," and according to the March For Our Lives website, you can join the student-activists in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2018 or march right in your own local community on that day.
The call for change began shortly after these students were forced to live through this mass shooting that was likely the most traumatic event of their young lives. Senior David Hogg (who was also present for Sunday's ABC interview) spoke with CNN following the shooting. Hogg implored Congress to take action on stricter gun control when he said, "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."
Also spreading the word with Kasky and Hogg was senior Emma Gonzalez. Gonzalez told Raddatz on Sunday that the students want to use this moment as a chance to involve the most influential GOP politicians at the top, like President Donald Trump, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Florida Governor Rick Scott. Gonzalez said, "We want to give them the opportunity to be on the right side of this." Thus far, President Trump's response to the Parkland shooting has been absent of any mention of gun control.
Focusing on the financial donations to politicians from the National Rifle Association (NRA) Gonzalez's classmate, Kasky, added, "Any politician on either side who is taking money from the NRA is responsible for events like this. At the end of the day, the NRA is fostering and promoting this gun culture." Politico reports that as of October 2017 the NRA had donated $5.9 million to Republican campaigns during the 2016 election cycle, and $106,000 to Democrats.
Gonzalez had more to say on the matter when she spoke with MSNBC on Sunday. She reiterated why it is imperative that the students continue fighting for gun control. Gonzalez aimed her message at the failures of Congress when she said, "This is our fight now, because you messed it up so badly that you left it to the kids. Now it’s our job, and you can’t try to take that back from us."
It is clear that the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are not satisfied with being the latest school shooting statistic. They are using their voices to hopefully engage the nation in a real conversation about stricter gun laws, and their voices will definitely be heard during the March For Our Lives on March 24 in Washington, D.C. The only question now is: Will Congress be listening?