What's Different About Parkland?

One of the saddest and most disturbing facts that I am aware of is that I’m only 19 years old and the deadliest mass shootings in this country have happened in my lifetime, from Columbine to Parkland. I can tell you where I was and what I was doing for the ones that have been the most dreadful.

For example, I was in the car with my friends after school one day, scrolling through Twitter, when I found out about Sandy Hook in 2012. When Dylann Roof opened fire in Charleston, I was sitting on the couch with my parents. I have countless moments like this, where I remember exactly what I was doing, because no matter how often these tragedies happen in this country, the world stops for a moment. I immediately turn on the news or go on Twitter to see the damage, shake my head, and wonder how and why this happened again.  

The thing is, though, with the resilience of the kids from Parkland, I think this vicious cycle of grieving and “thoughts and prayers” with no action is going to end. I don’t think this problem will ever be totally eradicated, but these kids are NOT going to let up, and I think that we may finally gain some serious traction in the fight to stop senseless gun violence. They have opened up several very important parts of this conversation.


How do we finally get common sense gun legislation?

How do we address the mental health aspect of gun ownership?

How do we help those being gunned down in “rougher” communities every day, particularly people of color? How do we better protect our teachers and our students?


Emma Gonzalez is a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She is one of the faces of the #NEVERAGAIN campaign.

These are just a few questions that we have to answer and reckon with, because this issue is the furthest thing from black and white. Everyone has a different perspective, and all of those are important to talk about moving forward.

For example, my dad is a public school teacher, and when these things happen, the first thing I do is call my dad. I know he’s always been hundreds of miles from school shootings, but I just need to hear his voice and know he’s okay. I should not have to do that. None of us should have to ever go through this ever again, and while it’s horrific that it has taken so long and cost so many lives to finally see some momentum, I think the tides are changing. The Parkland kids are saying #NEVERAGAIN, and I think they have what it takes to make that more than a hashtag.

Gonzalez and her classmates re-entering their high school.

Colliegettes, we have the power to make sure that this is the last time something like this happens. If you’re interested in what you can do in terms of mass shooting prevention, check out Sandy Hook Promise and Everytown. These are nonprofits that have endless information that can really help Parkland be the last one.

It’s easy to feel helpless and cynical in times like these; sometimes, it feels all we really can offer is our thoughts and prayers. That is not enough, but we CAN do more, and we WILL do more.