Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Sadly, here in the U.S., today is also the first anniversary of the mass shooting at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, that resulted in the deaths of fourteen high school students and three school faculty members.
While an initial sense of hopelessness descended upon our nation, for those of us who believe in common sense gun reform, that’s slowly given way to cautious optimism. The students who survived that horrifying massacre have created a movement for change that for the first time has outlasted the initial news cycle. In 2018, at least 67 new gun laws were enacted in in Florida and 26 other states, as well as the District of Columbia. In Washington, 17 newly elected House members are supporters of stricter gun laws and more than two dozen House members who were backed by the National Rifle Association were defeated. Polls show the NRA is increasingly losing public support due to bad press from mass shootings and investigations of its links to Russians attempting to influence the 2016 elections.
Much of this change has been brought about by the young survivors. Teens that shouldn’t have had to worry about anything besides school work, going to prom, and getting into the colleges they wanted, were suddenly, the faces of the Never Again MSD movement, and they’ve refused to quietly go away despite being threatened, bullied, and denigrated not only online but also on conservative outlets including Fox News. In the year since the Parkland shooting there have been almost 1,200 shooting deaths of victims under the age of 18. Obviously, there is so much more that needs to be done, but for the first time there’s hope, thanks to this younger generation. They have ushered in a new era of activism and this anniversary should be, no, MUST be marked every year by the continuing fight against gun violence.
I’m going to end this post by sharing a quote from one of the co-founders of the Never Again MSD movement, nineteen-year-old Emma González.
So we are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it just yet, and for those who will never speak again. We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.