Over thirty days ago, Nikolas Cruz distressed many when he opened fire in a school in Parkland, Florida. He pleaded guilty to 17 charges of murder, in efforts to avoid the death penalty. His mental health history of anger issues, depression, ADHD, self-harm and autism may affect this possible condemnation. When school shootings—like this—occur, they cause a ripple effect. Educators School Safety Network, a non-profit dedicated to empowering educators through safety training, is aware of this effect and tracked more than 70 threats per day since the shooting. A recent attack occurred in Maryland, where two students were shot before the school resource officer responded, quickly saving the school. This unfortunate incline in threats and attacks is allowing students, like the kids at Parkland, to project their voice to reform gun laws.
Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, impressed upon the population a powerful speech advocating for better gun laws. She recalled the amount of money Trump received from the NRA ($30 million), and how gunshot victim’s lives will soon be worthless if he does not prevent shootings from happening. #shameonhim. Repetition of “we call BS”, summates how these students demand change and want to be the ones who change history. I have the utmost respect for these students. I remember talking about political change in my AP Government class, “If I could go back in time, I would not have done that,” is the biggest lie we learned. My teacher said, “what you are doing now is what you would have done back then”. Considering that these students are using the publicity to advocate for tighter gun control shows strength and immense passion.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY: 17 MINUTE WALKOUT
Marjory Stonewall students are not alone in their pursuit. Other high schools in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Newtown, Bartlesville, Pittsburgh and Santa Monica have expressed concerns in reforming gun laws. High schools in these cities participated in the 17 minute walkout. In Pennsylvania, the March For Our Lives campaign is underway and set to occur on March 24. The walk will start on Grant Street and end in Market Square, more information can be found here. Students across the nation agree that we need change in our laws. Not for political gain, but for our safety.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT NEXT?
Midterm elections take place in November 2018, and voting is an important step in reforming our political system. Municipal elections in Pittsburgh recently occurred, majorly declaring Conor Lamb as Representative for the 18th District. Our city is also at a twelve year low in shootings. In 2017, there were only 44 fatal shootings and 113 nonfatal shootings, 18 percent less than last year. There is no way to predict the future, however, an increase in background checks and reform in obtaining firearms seems probable.
In the wise words of Robin Williams, “Your move, chief.” Politicians should feel the pressure. Use your voice, and maintain and improve your self-health.