In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, young activists have been advocating for reforms regarding gun control. Infuriated victims of the Parkland shooting are acting to end gun violence on a national level. In the month since the massacre, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have participated in conferences with the U.S. administration, town hall debates with Marco Rubio and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, rallies, marches, and protests.
“We do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon,” said Emma Gonzalez, an activist and senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “…if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it’s time to start doing something.”
Gonzalez’s beliefs are held by many young people across America. Many teens feel as though they’re not safe in public schools. “I believe that you should be able to go to school and gain your education without any fear of death,” said Fr. Sophie Schiavone. Schools are beginning to practice reformed safety drills in the event of a school shooting.
The debate over gun control has been a long-standing controversial topic in the U.S. Though gun violence is undeniably a pressing issue that must be addressed, many Americans advocate for their Second Amendment right to own a firearm for the purpose of self-defense and with the intent of citizens being able to form a militia. “[The militia is] every man, it’s every woman,” said NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. “In the context of the time, a well-regulated militia meant an American man, an American woman, a citizen of the United States of America, who could operate and service their firearm.”
However, many students seem to disagree with that sentiment. In response to those who exercise their Second Amendment rights, young people are exercising their right to peacefully protest. “I think that [the walkout] is a very good idea for students who would like to express themselves politically and want be able to express their concern for their safety,” said So. Timmy Chamblee. Schools across the nation have taken action and organized walkouts to protest gun violence in hopes that the U.S. government will make reforms regarding gun laws.
Though many teens across the country have or will participate in walkouts, some students believe that it is ineffective. “The event itself is just so incredibly unorganized,” said Jr. Braden Helfrich. “I don’t think that anyone knows really what the walkout is for other than ‘to make a change’.”
Regardless of contrasting views, student activists have started a movement that cannot be silenced. Teens are using their voices to create change and stand up for what they believe. “I believe that if you are passionate about something, you should express it–use your voice because no one else is going to express your ideals,” said Chamblee. “We may be young but our generation has a strong voice that needs to be heard.”
DHS will be holding a walkout protest on Wednesday, March 14th, at 10 am on the football field. For more information, visit @dhs.studentsforchange on Instagram.