Survivors of Florida school shooting speak up, speak out


Yesterday, survivors of the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were given the opportunity to speak to and hear from their elected officials and a spokeswoman from the NRA.

The town hall was hosted by CNN after survivors of the attack have gained media attention for their gun control advocacy following the loss of 17 people at the Parkland, FL high school. Students, parents, and community members spoke on Wednesday, pressuring officials to provide tougher restrictions on guns.

One student asked Sen. Marco Rubio if he would stop accepting donations from the NRA. Rubio refused to say he would, replying "The influence of these groups comes not from money," “You can ask that question and I can say that people buy into my agenda.”

Rubio also said that he is “reconsidering” his position on the size of gun magazines, he supports raising the age limit for buying rifles from 18 to 21, and that he has proposed “gun violence restraining orders,” which would allow members of someone’s family to report to law enforcement that they should not be allowed to buy or own firearms.

The town hall ultimately seemed to leave the audience with more questions than answers. Regardless, the students who survived this terrorist attack are working to turn their trauma into real change. In addition to last night’s town hall, students have met with Donald Trump and have staged several sit-ins and demonstrations, including a massive march, set for March 24th. Celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney have promised to donate $500,000 each to a fundraiser for the ‘March for our Lives’, to be held in Washington, DC, to demand change.

Oprah tweeted, “These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.” Many have been critical of celebrities and politicians, and the outpour of support garnered by these (mainly non-Black) students’ efforts, comparing this surge of tragedy-turned-activism to the Black Lives Matter movement. This is not to say that their efforts should not be applauded. It does, however, raise the question of whether race, and potentially class and age, has allowed these students to make such a strong mark in so little time.

When concerns about gun violence are raised by activists and politicians in the African American community, the issue doesn’t seem to be regarded as such a widely-sweeping and unifying issue. Now, though, the students in Parkland have taken this tragic episode as an opportunity to use their voices for good.

Hopefully through these students’ brave efforts and persistent advocacy, some action will be taken to finally address the issue of gun safety within the US.

Dominque Brodie