By: Katelyn Hodgson
On February 14, 2018, a 19-year old walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a legally purchased AR-15 and killed 17 people, injuring 14 others, and leaving behind students, staff, and parents determined to do something about this recurring problem. According to the New York Times, the superintendent took a stand, saying “Now is the time for the country to have a real conversation on sensible gun controls in this country.”
But what most people have been talking about are the righteously indignant responses of the survivors. Senior Emma Gonzalez gave an emotional speech at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale that touched many listeners and went viral. “This isn’t just a mental health issue. He wouldn’t have hurt that many students with a knife,” Gonzalez said (the Independent). She now has almost twice as many Twitter followers as the NRA, reports USA Today.
Other survivors have spoken out at rallies or via social media as well. Parkland Junior Sarah Chadwick has taken to Twitter to voice her opinions on gun control, saying things like “We should change the names of AR-15s to ‘Marco Rubio’ because they are so easy to buy.” Chadwick stands her ground against those who take offense to her comments, correcting talk show host Laura Ingraham’s criticism of her tweets by saying only “I’m a junior.” Ingraham had referred to her as a sophomore. David Hogg, another student who survived the shooting, called the NRA “completely broken” in an interview with ABC’s This Week, and claimed that NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch was misrepresenting the majority of the organization’s members, who just want to responsibly own guns.
These are just three of the students determined to change the state of gun control laws in the United States. Emma Gonzalez has become a rallying icon for the movement, ending her speech with a mission statement: ““We are going to change the law. That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook, and it’s all going to be due to the tireless efforts of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most importantly the students.”
The backlash to the call for stronger gun control laws has been significant. Many people have reacted negatively to the way that the survivors of the shooting have been addressing lawmakers and politicians, implying that they are disrespectful. An aide in Florida was fired after calling Gonzalez and Hogg “actors that travel to various crisis when they happen,” reports The Washington Post. Gonzalez and Hogg had appeared in a CNN interview supporting stricter gun legislation and the end of the NRA.
The Parkland survivors will not go unheard, and there is reason to believe this event has shifted public opinion. According to a CNN poll February 25, 70% of those surveyed now back stricter gun laws. That number is up from 52% in an October poll after the Las Vegas mass shooting. “Just 27% oppose stricter laws.” While every poll has an expected percent of error, it seems that the majority of Americans support tougher gun legislation not as a phase, but as a growing belief that something must be done to prevent future mass shootings. This poll shows support for many aspects of stricter gun control, including preventing convicted felons and those with mental health problems from owning guns (87%); preventing people under age 21 from buying any type of gun (71%); a ban on the sale and possession of high-capacity or extended ammunition magazines (63%); and a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of rifles capable of semi-automatic fire (57%).
Katelyn Hodgson, from Kilbourne, Illinois, is a sophomore double-majoring in English and History. Katelyn is a member of the Rotaract Club and a new writer for The Rambler.