"Never Again" Sets A New Tone For Gun Control

"Young people speaking their minds

Getting so much resistance from behind"

       -Buffalo Springfield

 

One of my favorite songs, “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield, was a famous protest song from the 60s in regard to the Vietnam War. Throughout human history, revolutions were led by teenagers. In the American Revolution, Alexander Hamilton was only 21 years old. Protests about the Vietnam War sprang up on college campuses across the country led by teenagers and young adults. The students who died at the Kent State massacre in 1970 were just children at ages 19 and 20. The children who died at the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting ranged in ages from 14 to 18 years old, and the leaders of the gun control movement are now their former classmates, in particular, Emma González, David Hogg and Sarah Chadwick, all children themselves, forced to grow up because of the tragic, but utterly preventable events, leading up to, and including, the fatal shooting on Valentine’s Day.

These students should be celebrated and applauded for their efforts to change this country and save lives, but instead they are facing severe criticism. Calling out politicians for inaction has earned them ire for being “rude” to adults from politeful and respectful right wing, conservative political pundits like Laura Ingraham, host on Fox News. They are also facing death threats from members of the NRA. They have also been shockingly and disgustingly accused of being crisis actors by conspiracy theorists in an attempt to derail their efforts.

When I first heard about the shooting in Parkland, I felt terrified, saddened and not at all surprised. In a country with a disgusting lack of gun control and laughable stance on assault rifles, this sort of thing happens literally every day. The belief that it may happen to me or one of my loved ones is something I came to terms with after the Sandy Hook massacre. When a nation can stomach the violent deaths of babies and do nothing, then what could possibly happen that is so egregious it finally causes change? The answer? Teenagers.

The support behind them has been tremendous. Celebrities, politicians, corporations and millions of everyday Americans have rallied behind these victims-turned-revolutionaries. After all, it’s kind of hard not to. Teenagers, especially today, have untapped potential and resources. Social media allows them to connect with millions instantaneously and literally shape their world. They are not burdened by the hard responsibilities of adulthood, like careers or parenthood, and their desire for change and hope hasn’t been beat down by the sad, depressing realities life can bring. They are also angered by the constant belittlement about their age whilst being told that they have endless potential that has been inhibited by the decisions of generations before them to destroy the environment and economy.

They have already held protest marches, town halls, called out politicians such as Marco Rubio for taking money from the NRA, succeeded convincing dozens of companies to sever ties with the NRA and are in the process of planning more marches. They refused to be silenced; they refuse to let their friends die in vain, and they refuse to be complicit. Ivanka Trump may not know what that word means, but the rest of us do. That is the word that will describe us all in history textbooks, and that is the word our children will use when asking us why we did nothing.

I grew up reading historical novels. I was obsessed with a diary series at my public library that told the stories of dozens of kids my age who lived through major historical events such as Pearl Harbor or the Great Depression. Though young, these children inspired me with their courage and conviction. I wanted to be like them so badly, and although I obviously didn’t want something horrible to happen like World War II, I felt it in my soul that if something historical were to happen that I too would act with bravery and make a difference. All these years later I realize that history is being made every day and that if I want to make a difference I just have to go out and do it. The good news is that there is so much we can all do.

First of all, vote. Vote in the presidential election, vote in the primaries and vote in your local elections. Vote for candidates that the NRA hates. Secondly, protest with your money. David Hogg, in a series of tweets, suggests avoiding visiting Florida for spring break and in general. He suggests visiting Puerto Rico instead to help improve their economy, ravished by inaction and hurricanes. Also, boycott and tweet at companies such as Amazon, Apple and FedEx who refuse to sever ties with the NRA. Finally, protest. Exercise your First Amendment right in the faces of those who believe their misinterpretation of the Second Amendment is more important than your right to live. There are some protests planned that you can participate in, especially as a college student.

On March 14th, the Women’s March’s Youth EMPOWER group has planned a nationwide school walkout at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes. On March 24th, student organizers have planned March For Our Lives in Washington D.C., with dozens of others throughout the country, to call for gun control legislature. On April 20th, in honor of the infamous and tragic Columbine shooting, the #NationalSchoolWalkout is in process of being planned.

I urge you all to take action. Never again will a tragedy on this scale happen.

Hi, I'm a freshman at the University of Akron! I am very excited to be majoring in social work. My passions include fashion, social change, beauty, social justice and feminism, and I'm very much looking forward to sharing my thoughts with all of you.

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