On February 14, the upper middle class city of Parkland, Florida was rocked with terror when a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School opened fire on the campus, killing 14 students and 3 teachers. The shooting also left 15 people injured.
The difference between this and other shootings is how it is being handled. Most mass shootings have the typical process of thoughts and prayers, some Republicans saying that it is not the time to talk about gun control, and then we wait for the next one to happen. The students of Stoneman Douglas, however, refuse to let that happen this time around, as many have called for action persistently. Marches and walkouts are being organized all around the country for a push to legislation, along with grieving the loss of the 17 lives.
This has also been Generation Z’s political debut. They have taken the microphone from adults and politicians in Washington and have used to it to preach a message of change. In addition to calling for demonstrations, like the National School Walkout on March 14th, many are looking at possible solutions. Popular ideas include the banning of assault weapons and bump stocks, increased background checks, and more security on campuses. Students are also trying to become more aware about students with mental health issues and those who may be struggling at school. The end goal is to combine the three factors, gun control, mental health awareness, and gun safety, to end mass shootings once and for all.
Florida has already failed to listen, with state lawmakers voting not to discuss the issue, even with Parkland survivors present. They are now turning to Congress, starting with a televised town hall meeting with Florida officials last week. Sen. Marco Rubio is starting to have a changing view in terms of assault rifles, but has refused to say that he would stop taking money from the National Rifle Association. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, continuously pushed for a ban on assault rifles at the event. Congress goes back in session this week, and gun control should be the first thing they talk about. Many bills are already on the table.
Leaders in the movement, like Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and Kyle Kashuv, have made it clear to lawmakers that action needs to be taken, and the lawmakers will be voted out unless they take action to make sure that this never happens again. Although many in Generation Z cannot vote yet, concerned parents will see the movement and take notice about how unsafe school campuses can be. Large public schools, like Stoneman Douglas, are lacking the security that they need. They only have one school resource officer who did not even enter the school during the massacre. It is almost as if a concert is taking place every day with minimal security. Imagine going to a venue without bag checks and security guards, it would feel unsafe, correct? With the easy access to weapons, schools have been proven to be major targets for mass shootings.
If Generation Z plays its cards right, they can be the generation that stunts gun violence in America. With persistence and putting forward effective solutions, it is possible to make schools in the future a safer place for students.
Photo credit: browardschools.com