Never Again: The Tragedy that Sparked a Movement

By: Inés Eisenhour ’19

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida, 17 people were killed and 14 people were injured with a semi automatic AR-15. It was legal for Nikolas Cruz, the 19 year old suspect in the shooting, to buy a civilian version of the military’s standard rifle. In the wake of this traumatic event, the students of  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have taken to the streets, the news and social media to protest the reckless manner that the state and federal legislature has attempted to shrug responsibility off of its shoulders. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, there have been around 300 school shootings, averaging nearly one a week, according to the Huffington Post. While gun violence prevention organizations say there’s been steady progress at the state level, Congress has consistently failed to pass federal gun control legislation.

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas have shown their determination to change that pattern. Within four days of the shooting, the students created Never Again, a movement with a clear policy goal (stricter, more holistic background checks for gun buyers) and a plan for nationwide protest (the March for Our Lives, scheduled for March 24). These young activists have firmly kept their agenda clear: the primary issue is not mental health or insufficient guns, but the irregularity and the inconsistencies in firearm distribution. The students quickly and fearlessly began calling out politicians and the National Rifle Association (NRA) for continuing to be complicit in school shootings. David Hogg, reporter for the MSD school newspaper said to ABC and CNN, “The NRA is completely broken…and I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. These are children’s lives. That’s the end of the line.” In many of his television interviews, he strongly emphasizes the need for bipartisan accountability.

ESJ’s Michael Barker ‘19 understands the difficulty for kids to be the vanguard of such a large movement, but he thinks “input from younger people is so valuable, and it only makes sense that this generation’s response should influence decisions made by the people in power.” Mr. Alex Nichols, an ESJ history instructor, further says, “It’s heartening to see students get involved; their point of view is so powerful.” When asked about the validity of students’ arguments he replied, “The point of history class is to provide the tools that these students are using. I think it’s a powerful thing, and they have every right to demand action.”

It will be curious to see the Congressional response to the student walkouts on March 14 and 24. If there is one thing to learn from the members of Never Again, it’s that any student is capable of inciting real change, regardless of age and lack of political experience.

Image courtesy of Wikicommons.