When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough: How to Enact Change Following the Parkland Shooting

On a day that is meant to share love between friends, family, and significant others, seventeen innocent lives were taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. Fourteen other individuals were injured.

In the 44 days since 2018 started, there have been 18 school shootings in the US, 8 of which have resulted in an injury or death. In comparison, there has been 18 school shootings across the globe in the last 20 years, in every other country combined.

However, instead of doing something to stop these tragedies, President 45 is instead tweeting his “prayers and condolences” to the victims and those affected. He’s staying quiet to the public about what the country is going to do to prevent school shootings in the future.

I grew up in Broward County and I know multiple people who lost loved ones because of this tragedy. There are people that lost a father, daughter, sister, son, brother, cousin, grandchild, neice, nephew, or best friend.

People lost someone incredibly important to them. And all politicians can say is they send their “prayers and condolences” that things like this will stop. But nothing can change without action.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am completely outraged. Outraged that since Sandy Hook, there has been no new precautions taken to prevent school shootings from happening. Sure, we enforce extra security for a couple weeks at the surrounding schools. Politicians will continue to tweet about how sorry they are, how something needs to change, and that no one should be afraid to go to school in the United States of America. But once the initial shock value blows over, it’s going to happen again. Every year the largest mass shooting number increases and every time, people say the same script, claiming there is nothing that can be done.

Something can be done, though. Regardless of where you stand on the second amendment, we can all agree that something needs to change. When someone tried to bring a bomb in their shoe on an airplane, we changed the laws so everyone must take their shoes off when going through airport security. So why has Congress refused to change protocol when it comes to gun regulations after hundreds of school shootings?

I know everyone has their own ideas on how to handle these situations, but no one is doing anything. Of course, mourn the lives of the individuals lost. This is a terrible event that should have never happened. However, we cannot just sit around and wait for another terrible event to call our representatives to take action. We cannot stand idly by and hope that things will get better. Change has never happened without people fighting for it.

Get angry. Enact change.  There are many things people can do that they don’t even realize.

  1. Call/Email/Write a letter to your representatives in Congress. Whatever you want to happen to keep students and teachers safe, let them know. Everyone has their own personal beliefs for what should be done. You need to stand up and tell the people who can actually change things.

  2. Stop using the shooter’s name right now. It gives him the fame and glory be wants. Instead, talk about the victims. Talk about who they were and that this should not have happened to them. By not using his name, we take the spotlight away from him and to the people who should have never been in this situation.

  3. Create petitions. We as a country have a right to petition. Sign petitions that enact the change you want to see in this country. Did you know that the government doesn’t even fund gun violence research? Do you find that infuriating? Sign a petition to change it. Do whatever is in your power to spread the word about these petitions. With enough support, they will make it to the people who can do something to change the laws in this country.

  4. Take all warning signs seriously. According to different news sources, the shooter was mentally ill. Both of his parents have passed and he was expelled from this high school for disciplinary issues. From what I have read, no one had referred him to a psychologist. Some of his peers claimed he seemed a bit “off.” He had posted a comment on Youtube saying he wanted to be a “professional school shooter.” Nothing was done about these warning signs. Maybe if something was, things would be different and there wouldn’t be 17 individuals gone and 14 more injured. If something seems wrong, don’t be afraid to speak up. It could save someone’s life.

  5. Get together with like minded individuals and spread awareness. Regardless if you believe that all teachers should be trained to use a gun, that guns should be outlawed all together, or any number of ideas you may have, make your voice heard. Everyone has different ideas; You deserve to speak up for what you believe in.

Stay strong, everyone. This is a heartbreaking tragedy. There are people who are willing to listen and help.

However, we can’t just sit around and wait for something else to happen. Enact change, be passionate. Fight for what you believe in to prevent these situations in the future.