A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Taking A Stand: Teens Demand Change

Student activism has been the attention of American news media. In the wake the the Parkland school shooting that left 17 dead, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students launched the #NeverAgain movement that went viral on social media. The goal was to get lawmakers to pass better gun laws but students quickly received backlash from pro-gun activist groups and many right-wing extremists. Despite this, the students were given an outpouring of love and support from people. This included politicians like Florida Senator Bill Nelson, Former President Barack Obama, and even First Lady Melania Trump. Hollywood couple Chrissy Teigen and John Legend went as far as donating $25,000 to the March for Our Lives movement organized by the students. These young activists are now putting the NRA, congress, and President Donald Trump in the hot seat as they continue their efforts for change in gun laws. But why is the aftermath of this tragic school shooting different from Sandy Hook in 2012 and Columbine in 1999?

For one, Parkland students aren’t taking no for an answer. After Sandy Hook, parents of the victims created Moms Demand Action, an organization aimed at more restrictive gun laws but students were too young to call for action themselves. Apart from organizing marches, boycotts and school walkouts these students are publicly speaking out against large organizations like the NRA. It shocks many adults that teens are now taking part in serious political discussions but when school shootings become a familiar part of the nightly news,  it’s time for change. As many people can agree, the aftermath is just part of an endless cycle of no action from congress. Children die, people call for action, politicians do nothing and we repeat. We are now hearing directly from the victims of the latest mass shooting and things are starting to change. The Florida Legislature recently passed new gun laws that Gov. Rick Scott signed. “Bump stocks” are illegal in the state. The minimum age to buy a gun in Florida is now 21. The NRA isn’t dealing with young elementary school students like during Sandy hook in 2012, where parents shielded their young ones from the media and press events. These are young adults that will soon be headed to the polls to demand change.

Many ideas are currently on the table, include arming teachers, something president Trump suggested last week. This has been extremely controversial since many students, parents and teachers say they would not feel safer with a gun in the classroom. Adding gun training to an already stressful job isn’t the answer, more guns aren’t the answer. You don’t fight fire with fire. 

Times are different now, America’s focus should be on what the victims are saying. We can learn a lot about the future of America if we listen to the voices of the future that are fighting for change.


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