Editorial | Parkland shooting survivors prove young people do have a voice


Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

Students protest against gun violence outside of the White House just days after 17 people were killed in a shooting at a south Florida high school on Monday, February 19, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

Idoesn’t matter where you stand on the issue of gun control — no one in our country is unfamiliar with the act of a school shooting. The idea of someone entering a place of education with the intent to inflict harm has become so common that even when news breaks of another incident, there is heartbreak and pain but rarely surprise.

The statistics point to an obvious problem. In 2018 alone, there has been at least one school shooting a week. For some, this statistic has become just another meaningless number.

Most of us are lucky enough to not have been a firsthand witness to one of these tragedies. Yet, as the number of incidents rise and more and more families lose their loved ones, students lose their classmates, and teachers lose their co-workers, the probability of it being us, of it happening here or to someone we know, climbs at a disgustingly rapid rate.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting came mentions of “thoughts and prayers,” calls for legislative reform and of course people on either side of the gun control debate criticizing the other.

However, the voices of those who survived have set this particular shooting apart in the hearts of those who have become numb to numbers and statistics.  The students who went to school that day thinking it was just another regular Wednesday and who found themselves hiding in closets are speaking up and being given platforms. Perhaps the silver lining of this horrific event is that the country is listening.

From news outlets broadcasting students’ speeches to the New York Times publishing an editorial written by a 15-year-old, it becomes very clear that no one has a better grip on the reality of our country and the urgency of gun control than these kids.

Politicians and Americans in general who support the National Rifle Association are now having to reckon with these firsthand testimonials. There might not yet be a clear-cut answer to this issue that pleases the masses, but listening to these student survivors — these children, no less — has been gripping.

The law and the people it would affect are no longer being talked about in a hypothetical sense. Instead, these teenagers are attending more funerals at once than they have been to in the course of their entire lives.

These students will hold onto Feb. 14. The events will replay in their minds when they close their eyes and try to sleep, and each time they walk into the same building in an attempt to gain a high school degree, they’re faced  with the memory of those who were stripped of their right to do the same and how easily it could have been them being remembered instead.

Surviving a school shooting could result in these students withdrawing into themselves or attempting to suppress and forget.

But to cultivate change, these teenagers are stepping up and speaking out in an attempt to curve our culture and to wake our country to the brutalities our legislation is enabling that are no longer rare, no longer spread apart.