Marjory Stoneman Douglas students nearly a year later

Photo By Mobilus In Mobili

Cohen Perry, Staff Writer

From Parkland, Florida to Washington D.C. the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting have changed the conversation around gun control.

On February 14, 2018 a former student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school walked into the school and killed 17 students and teachers and injuring 17 more. Less than 24 hours after the shooting took place various students were posting on social media and talking to news sites to get their story and experiences out. People such as David Hogg and Emma González quickly got media attention after videos of Hogg and González went viral on social media. Hogg’s interviews with a local news station went viral after he pleaded that politicians and other government officials to do something to implement stricter gun control laws. A video of González’s speech in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that took place 3 days after the shooting, went viral after she expressed another call to action from the government. Other students that have gotten involved in speaking out about their experiences and calls for gun control are: Cameron Kasky who was the founder of the #NeverAgain movement, and he also called out Senator Marco Rubio in a televised town hall meeting in Florida where Kasky asked Rubio “Senator Rubio, will you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?” Another student is Sarah Chadwick who is the co-founder of #NeverAgain, who tweeted at President Trump saying that she doesn’t want condolences- just gun control. Last but not least, Jackie Corin, who took a group of 100 Stoneman Douglas survivors to Tallahassee, Florida to meet with Florida lawmakers in hopes of trying to change laws about gun control.

The months following the shooting the survivors organized a march on Washington, planned two nationwide school walkouts, a national tour, written a book, have gained a huge following of supporters, and they have also inspired a new generation of activists at their school and around the country.

On March 24, 2018, the students hosted the March for Our Lives (#MFOL) in Washington D.C. The march was accompanied by 800 sister marches in every U.S. state. The march in Washington featured speeches from the Stoneman Douglas Students and other victims of gun violence from around the country such as Yolanda Renee King, the granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., Edna Chavez from Los Angeles, CA, and Mya Middleton from Chicago, Illinois. The march also featured performances from celebrities such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Common, Ben Platt, Vic Mensa, Andra Day, and Demi Lovato. March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. had an estimated attendance of 200,000 people.

On March 14 and April 20, 2018, schools across the U.S. participated in the two walkouts. The first walk out on March 14 took place at 10 am local time and it consisted of 17 minutes of silence, one minute for each victim. The second walk out on April 20 at 10 am. This walkout occurred on the on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting in Colorado.

This past summer and fall the students activists went around the country and did a tour called ‘March for Our Lives: Road to Change.’ The tour was used to register or pre-register young voters for the upcoming mid-term election. The student activists plan on making over 80 stops around the country to talk about the importance of voting and gun control.

On October 16th, 2018 the group released a book which is title ‘Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement.’ The book features first-person essays and documents of the policies they support. This book is meant to inform young people about gun violence, one of the issues that impact them the most.

On various social media websites, the young activists have continued to express their ideas and concerns while gaining a large following. Emma González (@Emma4Change) has gained 1.6M followers on twitter since making her account in February of 2018. On Twitter David Hogg (@davidhogg111) has gotten 885.9k followers, Jackie Corin (@JaclynCorin) has 182.5K followers, Cameron Kasey (@cameron_kasky) has 429K followers, and the official March for Our Lives (@AMarch4OurLives) has 433.3K followers. Since March for Our Lives and the organized school walkouts, these activists have also changed the way that the general public views gun control. A recent Gallup poll, conducted after the shooting in February, showed that support for stricter laws on gun sales is at its highest since 1993. In another Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows that public support for the NRA is down to 37%, which is the first time since 2000 that the NRA has been viewed more negatively than positively.

This past year Emma González and David Hogg graduated from Stoneman Douglas, but there is still another generation of students who will continue the activism. From the class of 2019, there is Cameron Kasky, Jackie Corin, Sarah Chadwick, and Alex Wind, who was another co-founder of the #NeverAgain movement that was created by Kasky. Another student who is still at the high school is Lauren Hogg, the sister of David Hogg. Lauren is graduating in 2021 and has written a book with her brother called ‘#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line.’

If these students have proven anything, it is that you don’t need to be an adult to make a difference or have your voice be heard. At a town hall meeting in Denver, Colorado Jackie Corin said, “I want to address the young people in the room that might not feel like they can do anything. I’m only 17. I’m not even old enough to vote. I am pre-registered. What you can do is, you can start clubs in your schools, and you can join local clubs like NeverAgain Colorado, like Students Demand Actions. You can talk to people that might not look like you that might not understand your perspective on these issues. You can grab a clipboard and go to your local park and pre-registered voters. You can do so many things even if you can’t vote yourself.” Even if you don’t agree with these students you can’t deny that they have made a big impact on how teenagers are viewed and what teenagers can do.