Florida school shooting sparks cries for change among teens

Summer Reece, Newspaper staff writer, designer, photographer

On Feb. 14, there were 3,000 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who walked into school — a place they believed they were safe. The  day ended in a terror that shattered their lives.

On Wednesday, right before dismissal, the gunman came into the school — after shooting three people outside the building — and continued his rampage. Seventeen people were killed — 14 students and three faculty — and at least 15 more were wounded.

The gunman, Nikolas Cruz, 19, was later found and arrested in a neighborhood nearby. Cruz reportedly confessed to the shooting and has since been charged with 17 accounts of premeditated murder.

Cruz used a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle that he legally purchased one year ago.

The shooting has caused an uproar not only in Parkland but around the nation — and even the world.

The students of MSD, joined with other shooting survivors and sympathizers, are demanding gun reform and will not stop until it happens. Their goal is to be the last mass shooting.

They say it is too easy for Cruz and others like him to purchase a gun. His mental health was in question and he had several instances of behavioral issues and homicidal thoughts. However, those factors did not stop him from getting a gun.

In Florida, a person does not need a permit or license to buy a gun. There are no assault weapon laws, no magazine capacity restrictions and a person is not required to inform law enforcement of their gun ownership.

The MSD students are using social media platforms to speak out on this issue, creating trends such as #neveragain and #EnoughIsEnough that are quickly gaining popularity.

The students continue gathering a staggering amount of supporters — even celebrities who want to help and have started using their own platforms to do so.

The students also held a rally at Florida’s state courthouse on Feb. 17, urging lawmakers to enforce stricter gun control.

They held signs that said things like “Common Sense Laws Now,” “We don’t want your thoughts and condolences, we want policy & change” and “I can’t buy a drink, but I can buy a gun?”

At the rally, Emma González, a student at MSD, spoke out against the current gun laws and politicians who support them, including Donald Trump.

In response to Trump’s tweet that said the people around Cruz should have reported his “bad and erratic” behavior to authorities sooner, González pointed out that they had “time and time again.”

González also spoke about how Trump received $30 million in support from the National Rifle Association, which is approximately $5,800 per gunshot victim in the U.S. in 2018 alone.

“Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don’t do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up, and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you. To every politician taking donations from the NRA: shame on you,” González said.

Rather than enforcing gun control, there have been several politicians that have suggested giving guns to teachers or employing heavier security to help stop the violence, but those ideas are met with strong opposition.

“We don’t want higher fences and metal detectors. We don’t want our teachers to have guns. We don’t want to go to school in a prison. We want CHANGE. We want genuine, lasting change,” twitter user @car_nove wrote.

Another student at MSD, Jakie Corin, is planning a trip to Tallahassee from Feb. 20-21 where 100 MSD students will speak with their senators and House of Representatives members about changing gun laws.

Reaching even farther than Parkland, a nationwide school walkout is being organized to protest current gun laws. The walkout is currently set for April 20, the 19th anniversary of Columbine. Students will leave at 10 a.m. and sit in front of their schools in peaceful protest.

An event that created destruction and devastation now has the potential to bring about real change, and the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are on a mission to take advantage of that. They are standing up for what they believe is right — what they know will help future generations.

For the students at MSD and supporters across the globe, this is just the beginning.