These past few months have followed history in a way that has caused for a greater revolution than ever before. We’ve seen time and again outbreaks of violence and terrorism with gun violence occurring in shopping malls, schools, government buildings, and just about anywhere you can think of. It is a problem that is greater than any string of words could properly describe. The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14th of this year broke many, for reasons unknown. The seventeen deceased victims from the event were a different kind, and their peers drew a roar that no other shooting has in recent years.
The March for Our Lives movement fights for those who can no longer fight. It works to protect the ones who can, and the ones who cannot. Contrary to some beliefs, the intent is not to strip people of their rights. It is not to make people vulnerable, nor is it to make people feel lesser than because they cannot carry their protection around their belt loop. It is to eliminate the feeling of needing that protection and access at all times. It is to keep safety in the hands of all, and to keep these same hands empty of anything harmful.
This topic inspires conversations that are like no other, and thus, it called for an interview like no other. Multiple students, staff, friends and families were given the opportunity to answer questions, as well as share simply what filled their minds when thinking of gun violence and the safety of our people. Read the voices of those who are lucky enough to still project, and help to work to support those who no longer can.
The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was just two months ago. Do you feel that this time around was different? Did the movements that occurred have any greater impact than past times?
“For some reason this one felt different. As an education major, I'm sadly used to seeing this, but for whatever reason this is the one that made me snap. Maybe it was the fact that when my first graders had a fire drill the next day, they were afraid to leave the classroom. When students that young are afraid for their lives, it makes you take note.
I think a big part of why this movement has exploded is that students have had enough. They were the ones to get fired up too-- they demanded that thoughts and prayers weren't enough. When the survivors are rallying for change, people are more likely to listen.”
Love trumps hate is a phrase that has become very powerful since the fall of 2016. Do you have any advice on how to handle those who are adhemently against change, and are unwilling to consider supporting the change that needs to be made in order to not just protect children and students, but society as a whole?
“I think people use the idea of love to defend whatever they want. However, it's different when there is love for the freedom to own a gun is over the love for the life of school children, it's really hard to make that moral switch in someone
I do believe that stories, and accounts are what truly moves people. Yes, we can throw facts upon facts at them, but when you hit them in their heart, and you tell them the stories of these survivors, or the fear on students faces, I think it's harder to ignore.”
As the majority of the leaders of this latest branch of activity have been young, a mixture of school age students, most powerfully those directly from Stoneman Douglas, what do you think that says about the current generation? How do we prove to those who undermine our power that we can and are the root to making new history?
“It's been said again and again but this generation (including myself) was raised on dystopian novels. They've seen how young people revolt and take back power when things aren't ok. We also live in such a wildly changing political climate, where politics are everywhere-- you can interact with the president right from your phone via Twitter, and it's not unheard of that he will respond-- or even block you.
For those naysayers that say young people don't know what they're saying, look at major events in history. Those fighting for independence were teenagers and twenty-somethings. We have college campuses sit ins, and young people at the front of the civil rights and feminist movements. Young people are raised in a climate that changed-- when I was in elementary school, we used to have dial up internet. My first graders now have smart phones. That's a HUGE difference. We are used to change, and we're used to pushing for what's right.
At the end of the day, those students were there. As the ones affected, they should be able to lead and shape the movement.”
Do you see any flaws in the current methods of the fight for gun control? Have there been any under representations that you have found that need to be addressed, in order to make this movement as powerful and valuable as it deserves to be?
“We know a huge narrative surrounding gun control is mental health. People want to stigmatize those with mental illness, but what is needed is just better background checks and regulation-- not limited to one group of people.”
We, the ones living in this present reality, are the ones who have the power the make change. How can we, from what you’ve seen or from your own ideas, have our voices heard?
“What I think people forget is that they have the power to talk to their representatives. Tell them how you feel! Call them and leave messages if you don't want to talk to someone-- that still counts. Send a letter. You can literally just show up to any of their offices, and ask to speak with someone in their office that day. You can book an appointment and bring people with you to talk to them. You also don't have to go to DC to do so-- my congressman lives in the town over from me, and stopping by his local office has the same effect.
Also remember-- your vote matters. You are choosing who represents you. You need to get informed, and get out and vote. Make your voice heard. Because it's those representing us who aren't letting things happen. And if you don't like them? Run for office.”