By STEFANIA CAMPANA
From the beginning the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Fla. refused to be silent after the tragic school shooting took place in their high school just three weeks ago. Since then these students have done everything in their power to let their voices be heard. Their pleas for stricter gun laws have been broadcast around the world and have sparked a much-needed discussion not only in America, but across the globe as well.
Since making their pleas all over social media and multiple news outlets, they have held rallies, held lawmakers accountable and started a movement. They also visited President Donald Trump, to discuss what should and can be done to make their schools safer. On Feb. 21, Trump welcomed victims, friends and parents of those affected by the Parkland shooting to the White House to listen to their pleas and discuss their views on gun laws. The audience and Trump heard from emotional survivors who shared their story and the story of others who unfortunately could not be there to tell them. It was then that President Trump suggested that teachers now be armed, so that they have a better chance of defending themselves and their students.
That same day, high schools from Florida, Minnesota, Colorado, Maryland and Arizona staged walk outs in solidarity for the victims and students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Some carried signs advocating for stricter gun laws while others showed their love and support through symbols and marching through their towns.
These students demanded to be heard, and refused to be quiet when they were told they were too young to understand what they were advocating. But the reality was they knew all too well. Because of their efforts and their resilience, on Mar. 9 Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, or Bill 7062, into law. This law creates new restrictions and creates a safer process for those looking to purchase firearms. It allows students in some schools to be armed with weapons. It also raises the age to buy weapons in Florida from 18 to 21.
While the students rejoiced for the progress being made in their home state, the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida for passing this bill. The NRA claims that this bill violates the Second Amendment.
While many praise the students for speaking out and demanding change, there are some who feel they really don’t know what they are talking about. Florida state Rep. Elizabeth Porter dismissed the student’s efforts when she said, “We’ve been told we need to listen to the children and do what they ask. Are there any children on this floor?” while speaking to her colleagues during a statehouse debate. Porter then went on to say, “The adults make the laws because we have the age, we have the wisdom and we have the experience.”
Though some individuals like Porter who are critical, there are many prominent figures not only in politics, but in the entertainment industry who praise the Parkland survivors for their motivation and demands for change.
In an interview with CNN’S Van Jones, Oprah Winfrey said, “They were creating this national march to say, ‘enough’… what it takes to risk that on a national level is what I responded to.” Winifrey praised what the Parkland survivors were doing; she compared their movement to the movements of the Freedom Riders in 1950. Winfrey donated money so that those who could not afford their own way to Washington, would still get a chance to go and stand up for what they believe in.
YouTube star Jake Paul has even taken time off of vlogging to go down to Florida and get involved by speaking with the survivors, teachers and politicians. He said the experience has “changed my life.” Paul released a video, where he speaks with survivors, that to raise awareness.
Emma Gonzalez, survivor and advocate well known within the movement for her powerful speech deliverance, tweeted “…Everything we do, when we scream, when we speak, when we march – we do it for the people who would have done it for us if we had been in the freshman building. And every day we fight a little harder in their name.”
The Parkland survivors, along with parents and many other advocates, have planned a march called March for Our Lives to take place on Mar. 24 in Washington D.C.
On Mar. 14 Despite being told they could face suspension, students across America staged walkouts to march in solidarity with the students and victims as well as those who will be marching in Washington.
Cameron Kasky, one of the creators of the #NeverAgain movement as well as March for Our lives, created a GoFundMe for the march. The GoFundMe has raised $3,241,754 of their $3.5-million goal as of March 11.
Parkland survivors have proved that they will not be ‘just another school shooting.’ These survivors have gone above and beyond, to raise awareness and demand change. These students have gone against adults in power and against multimillion-dollar corporations and because of that, they got change. Sporting goods stores and other business have changed their gun sale policies and how they are sold. Dicks Sporting Goods has even declared they will no longer sell assault-style rifles. There has never been this much discussion and this much change made after a school shooting in America. These students will not only have the support of their fellow marchers on March 24, but also the support of those who stand with them and believe in their cause.