By Katelyn Melder
On Feb. 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. with an AR-15 rifle and plans to use it. When he later fled the school, Cruz left behind 17 victims—14 students and three faculty members—who he had fatally shot.
According to NPR and gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, this was number 18 on the growing list of shootings on school property in the U.S. since Jan. 1.
This act of violence left the community and nation devastated once again, and, as teenagers, coworkers and parents mourn the deaths of their friends, sons and daughters, an underlying fire continues to burn within America’s youth. Everyone is asking the same question: how many innocent deaths will it take for the government to act on gun control?
Since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, no significant laws or requirements have been established to prevent this issue from reoccurring. In fact, as of February of 2016, there have been 141 people killed in school mass murders since the Columbine shooting according to Lauren Pearle of ABC News.
Students all over the country are standing with survivors in rallying for stronger gun control, and they’re demanding to be heard. Groups of students and teen-run organizations have started holding and organizing protests.
At a rally primarily composed of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, senior Emma Gonzales delivered an original speech. She said, “Every single person who is up here today should be at home grieving, but instead we are up here, standing together, because if all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see.”
On Feb. 19, students peacefully protested outside of the White House and held a three-minute “lie-in,” demonstrated by 17 students, to symbolize the amount of time it had taken Cruz to murder the same amount of people. The demonstration was planned by the Teens for Gun Reform group.
Along with this, the Women’s March Youth has called for students, school faculty, administrators and allies to participate in a National School Walkout on March 14. The walkout will last for 17 minutes starting at 10 a.m. to remember the 17 lives that were lost in the Florida shooting.
National School Walkout has organized a nation-wide high school walk out to take place on Friday, April 20—the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
For those not attending high school, the newly minted March for Our Lives organization is leading a protest in the streets of Washington, D.C. on March 24, where hundreds will advocate for change in gun laws.
As protests, marches, and school walkouts are being organized, “#Enough” is trending on social media platforms to promote their combined cause.
A letter from the National School Walkout and Women’s March Youth declares, “We want to learn. We want to live.” Students shouldn’t have to fear educational settings, and America’s youth is nudging the country one step closer to diminishing that fear. The country is seeing more push for change and hearing more voices cry out for the sake of their families and friends.