Politics

Commentary: Stoneman Douglas High School, Home of the Brave

Students Take the Fight to Politicians and the NRA

By: Steven Morris

Credit: Rhonda Wise, AFP/Getty Images

On February 14, another mass shooting occurred here in the United States. This time, it was at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

This mass shooting, committed by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former Stoneman Douglas student, resulted in 17 murdered and another 17 injured.

Since 2014, there has been 1,377 incidents that are deemed “mass shootings” that have happened, according to the Gun Violence Archive website. Out of those 1,377 incidents, 45 incidents have happened so far in 2018.

Mass shootings in the United States, unfortunately, have become a normal occurrence. After every such incident, there is a short outcry from citizens and some politicians about gun control and the NRA, that only lasts a few days and if we’re lucky, about a week.

After each incident, the voices who advocate for “thoughts and prayers’ drown out the voices who call for reform of the archaic and broken system of gun regulation.

However, this mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas is different. The outrage is different; the topic has not been easily forgotten. These high school students, are taking the fight to the politicians and the NRA and are not accepting the requests of “thoughts and prayers”.  

These students want change and they want change now.

Delaney Tarr, a senior at Stoneman Douglas, in a speech to lawmakers in Tallahassee on February 21, said “This movement, created by students, led by students, is based on emotion. It is based on passion and it is based on pain. Our biggest flaws—our tendency to be a bit too aggressive, our tendency to lash out, things that you expect from a normal teenager—these are our strengths. The only reason that we’ve gotten so far is that we are not afraid of losing money, we’re not afraid of getting reelected or not getting reelected, we have nothing to lose. The only thing we have to gain at this point is our safety.”

Another Senior, Ryan Dietsch, who has been one of the faces of this movement, told PBS News in an interview that “We’ve had enough. We are the generation that was born after Columbine. We have lived with is our entire lives and now it happened at my school. I spent two hours in a closet just hiding and I am done hiding. We’re done hiding. America (is) done hiding.”

According to the numbers, it certainly does look like “America [is] done hiding”. A February poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, states that “Support for universal background checks is itself almost universal, 97 – 2 percent, including 97 – 3 percent among gun owners. Support for gun control on other questions is at its highest level since the Quinnipiac University Poll began focusing on this issue in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.”

In the same poll by Quinnipiac, “67 – 29 percent for a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons” and “83 – 14 percent for a mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases. It is too easy to buy a gun in the U.S. today, American voters say 67 – 3 percent. If more people carried guns, the U.S. would be less safe, voters say 59 – 33 percent. Congress needs to do more to reduce gun violence, voters say 75 – 17 percent.”

Credit: Don Juan Moore, Getty Images

The effect the students of Stoneman Douglas have had on American politics has been impactful, to say the least.

Whether it has been a huge shift on public opinion of gun control, to going to the state capital to convince lawmakers for stricter gun control, holding a meeting with President Trump over gun control and now organizing a nationwide protest, asking students to walk out of school on April 21 to protest the lack of gun control laws.

This is why this feels different. Recent school shootings in this country, have been in elementary schools, where children don’t really have much of a political voice.

However, this happened in a high school, where students are starting to realize and understand the world around them.

The students of Stoneman Douglas High School are doing something that is a rare sight to see: confronting the people in charge, reminding them that the politicians work for us, not for lobbyists or big corporations.

The story from Parkland, Florida isn’t about the shooter; it’s about the students of Stoneman Douglas High School who have had enough of the same old “thoughts and prayers” solution.

This is about the students who want actual action taken to regulate the sales of guns in the United States and are willing to stand up against the people in power.

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