Face the Facts: Why ‘March For Our Lives’ had to be helmed by shooting survivors


Photo courtesy of Associated Press

Story by Cody Uhls / Contributing Writer

It had to be kids.

But not just any kids.

Survivors.

Adults couldn’t have organized a march about kids and school shootings and have expected it to have the impact the “March For Our Lives” had for the issue.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, started the protests in the wake of 17 students being shot and killed in February at their own school.

The campaign for stricter gun control was quickly coined the “Never Again” movement. Cameron Kasky, one of the social-media giants of the movement and a Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, wrote in one of his many posts after the shooting, “Can’t sleep. Thinking about so many things. So angry that I’m not scared or nervous anymore . . . I’m just angry. I just want people to understand what happened and understand that doing nothing will lead to nothing. Who’d have thought that concept was so difficult to grasp?”

They are the type of people lawmakers can’t simply ignore. Though lawmakers attempt to keep their distance from the chatter, survivors have voices louder than anything in any political debate.

Pro-gun activists attempted to hold rallies of their own on Saturday, March 24, which was the same day as the nationwide March For Our Lives protests. It didn’t work. The New York Times reported, “In Salt Lake City, Utah, about 500 pro-gun marchers walked to the state Capitol building, advocating for fortified schools and more armed teachers. An hour later, about 6,000 anti-gun violence demonstrators marched the same route in a call for more gun regulations.”

This isn’t a gun debate anymore. It’s a life debate. This movement is about lives lost, and there have been too many. According to CNN, there has been an average of one school shooting each week this year alone. Nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety, co-founded by Michael Bloomberg, collects data about school shootings, and it reports there have been 306 school shootings in America since 2013.

The debate over gun control and the debate to protect schools from shootings have been going on since Columbine High School’s infamous shooting in 1999. This is different, however. Kids organized this. The organizers witnessed this atrocity occur before their eyes, and it isn’t something easily forgotten. I support these kids. There’s something bittersweet about it. It’s worth the debate. The New Yorker staff writer Emily Witt wrote at the end of her article, “The first step of the Never Again movement was believing in an idea that the rest of America had grown too cynical to imagine: that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High really could be the last school shooting in America.”

The March For Our Lives was one step closer to this becoming a reality. Could Stoneman Douglas really be the last school shooting? No. But the sentiment of it being one of the last is something Americans, especially young Americans, could and should rally around.

This is an opinion, written from the perspective of the writer and does not reflect the views of Sidelines or MTSU.

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