Gun Safety: 4 Tips From the Parkland Students

If you missed the Parkland Students event here at American University, here’s your chance to get the recap! After attending the event and interviewing Samantha Fuentes, Jaclyn Corin, and David Hogg, I found these four tips to be extremely important when it comes to gun safety.

Young people have the power to change the narrative.

As a student, it’s essential to get involved within your community. Local connections are the basis of activism and are the first step to creating change. After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14th this year, the Parkland students started the initiative “March for Our Lives”, in order to raise awareness and protest gun violence. March for Our Lives has multiple chapters across the country, with local chapters looking to connect with their congressmen. Creating long-lasting relationships is the key to reform, as protests aren’t always sufficient enough when trying to voice your opinion. Yet, they are still extremely beneficial when it comes to bringing attention to gun safety, and attending them creates community.

Another way for young people to get involved is running for office! When students in high school or college take this step, they are setting the precedent, being leaders, and creating great examples for other youth who want to run in the future. Jaclyn Corin mentioned an acquaintance of hers pursuing this path and states that “It’s something beautiful. The first time he’s voting, he’s voting for himself on the ballot, and there should be more of that in our country.” After all, if they’re doing it, so can you! 

 

Gun violence is preventable and we need to stop approaching it as a natural disaster.

Gun violence is often looked at as something that cannot be prevented, an ideology that stems from the lack of spending on gun violence research. As Jaclyn mentions, “We need to focus more on preventative health care,” which is an essential step towards safe schools and communities. In order to promote gun safety, more mental health practitioners should be employed in schools, instead of funding guards. If gun violence can be prevented, there would not be such a pressing need for extra security. 

One of the bigger underlying confusions is that activists are not trying to take guns away from everyone, just those not qualified to own them. There should be stricter laws for domestically and internationally produced weapons. 

“We are pro-gun safety, we are anti-gun violence. It’s not a question whether you are pro second amendment or anti second amendment. It’s a question of whether or not you’re pro-public health or whether or not you’re anti kids dying in schools and communities every day.” –David Hogg

We need to focus on the issues minorities face instead of focusing on the white story.

When it comes to gun violence, the media definitely prefers the “white story”. It’s about time that we start representing voices of people of color and integrating their conversation into the larger picture. Jaclyn, David, and Samantha want to make sure that those touched by systematic racism, poverty, and educational disparities have the opportunity to be represented. As Jaclyn states “My experience does not correlate to my friend’s, who falls asleep to gunshots every night,” which showcases the reality of so many people of color in poorer communities. The Parkland students want to make sure to discuss stories of minorities and give them the platform to share their experiences. 

When it comes to walkouts and protests within schools, white kids walk out and it’s seen as a movement, yet minorities walk out and they are treated like criminals. People of all demographics, communities, and color should be treated as equals and the media should reflect that!

“That’s telling the white story, it’s not telling the American story.” –David Hogg

Your vote matters.

Voting in the upcoming Midterm elections is more important than ever! Jaclyn Corin brings up the point that young people’s votes are suppressed due to the difficult voter registration process and the fact that voting takes place on a Tuesday. The best way to combat this issue though is through shifting the culture and making voting enjoyable! For example, connecting with students face to face on personal issues that candidates can help with is essential to reaching them. Whether that be through talk about student loans, conversations regarding issues we face as students must be addressed. Another way to excite young people to vote is through convincing them to use the power they have within themselves to make a change. An additional step would be creating groups that help students register to vote. This is a conversation that should be happening among us all!

 

Image Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4

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