Brief # 3 Gun Control
On February 14, 2018 a gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida. According to CNN, within the first 12 weeks of 2018 there have been an average of 1.4 school shootings a week, which comes out to 17 school shootings where someone has been hurt or killed. Since the shooting on February 14, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have launched the #neveragain movement. The group of around twenty students from MSD was initially founded by Cameron Kasky, Alex Wind and Sofie Whitney the day after the shooting, they were later joined by fellow students Alfonso Calderon, Sarah Chadwick, Jaclyn Corin, Emma González, and David Hogg among others.
The #neveragain movement organized by MSD students has featured two major events in the past few weeks. A month after the shooting in Parkland, the MSD students started a global initiative: the National Student Walkout. At 10 a.m. on March 14, students across the country walked out of school for 17 minutes to honor those who lost their lives during the school shooting. Walkouts happened in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country including in Columbine, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut. Kaylee Tyner, a student at Columbine High School who participated in the walkout, told the New York Times, “We have grown up watching more tragedies occur and continuously asking: Why?” While some schools and administrations were supportive of the walkout, there were also schools that told students if they walked out they would be facing disciplinary action. According to Youth EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, over 3,000 walkouts took place around the country with over 1 million students participating.
The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas also organized the March for Our Lives, a national movement on March 24, 2018. The march, originally organized for D.C., had over 800 sister marches planned worldwide. Their demands:
- Fund gun violence research
- Eliminate restrictions on the ATF
- Universal background checks
- High-capacity magazine ban
- Limit firing power on the streets
Politicians were not asked to speak at the marches, rather they were student organized and led. In D.C. MSD student, Emma Gonzalez had a particularly powerful impact on the crowd, standing on stage for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the majority of the time in silence. She said, “Six minutes and about 20 seconds. In a little over 6 minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 were injured and everyone in the Douglas community was forever altered. Everyone who was there understands. Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands. For us, long, tearful, chaotic hours in the scorching afternoon sun were spent not knowing. No one understood the extent of what had happened.” Many activists also noted the intersectionality of this march by including and elevating people of color and their stories. Jaclyn Corin, one of the MSD student organizers addressed this directly in her speech saying, “We recognize that Parkland received more attention because of its affluence. But we share this stage today and forever with those communities who have always stared down the barrel of a gun.” Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old girl, also took the stage in D.C., to say never again for black females. “My friends and I might still be 11 and we might still be in elementary school, but we know. We know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong.”
In the US it is estimated 1.2 million people marched around the country. At the march in D.C. estimates range from 200,000 to 800,000 people. In Boston it is estimated between 50,000-100,000 people participated in the march and rally on the Boston Commons. In New York City around 200,000 people marched through the streets. In Los Angeles it is estimated around 55,000 people attended the March for Our Lives rally. And, in Parkland, Florida, approximately 20,000 people marched. Another student walkout is being planned for April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
In response to the Parkland shooting and the rise of the MSD student activists, the NRA has received an outpouring of monetary support from their supporters. Contributions to the NRA’s Political Victory Fund which funds candidates supportive of the NRA tripled during the month of February. Additionally, after the shooting, the NRA increased their Facebook ad spending from $11,300 to $47,300. Their ads included messaging such as, “Never in our lives have we seen more dangerous and reckless attacks from those who despise our freedoms.”
Now, the student organizers are turning their attention to the November midterm elections. Furthering the original goals of the march, nearly 4,800 people were registered to vote, which is in line with their next mission—Vote for Our Lives. David Hogg, another of the MSD student activists has said, “To those politicians supported by the NRA that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say get your resumes ready.”
March for Our Lives—Their mission is “Not one more.” Follow their website as they turn movement from the March into further action.
Sandy Hook Promise—An organization created by the parents of Sandy Hook students to build a national movement to deliver gun violence prevention programs and mobilize for the passage of sensible state and national policy.
Everytown—A movement of Americans working to end gun violence and build safer communities.
This brief was compiled by Rebecca Leclerc. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact, firstname.lastname@example.org.