On February 14th, 2018 Nikolas Cruz stepped foot inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with a .223-caliber AR-15 rifle and killed seventeen people, while injuring even more. Following the tragic events of that day, many Parkland students spoke out about how they felt regarding gun violence and gun laws.
In America, every state follows different guidelines regarding gun laws, but still all follow similar Federal Gun Laws, which every state in America must follow. Some Federal Gun Laws include: National Firearms Act (“NFA”), Federal Firearms Act of 1938 (“FFA”), Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, Gun Control Act of 1968, and a lot more that sound the same. Many of these laws involve the person who is obtaining the weapon to be over the age of 21. But sadly, many of these laws are not taken seriously when someone decides to purchase a weapon. Many times weapons can be unregistered by the state, which means many people in our world could have weapons inside their homes without the state they live in knowing. It is also common for parents to own weapons and store them somewhere in their house, leaving it open to their kids.
In the case of school shootings, many of the shooters obtain the gun from family members or from their own home. The Gun-Free School Zones of 1990 can be found to be quite interesting. On Congress.gov, this law states, “Amends the Federal criminal code to impose criminal penalties for the possession or discharge of a firearm in a school zone, with specified exceptions, including the possession or discharge by an individual as part of a school program or by a law enforcement officer acting in an official capacity.”
The Gun-Free School Zones of 1990 is a law that is constantly being broken time and time again. In U.S history, there has been over 100 school shootings – some small, and some major. But overall, it is clear that these gun laws need to be changed, and quickly. The 20th century and the 21st century both include the most school shootings, as well as the worst school shootings in history. In order for this to finally change, the Parkland students created a movement.
On Wednesday, March 14th, Students walked out of classes across America to take part in the protest against gun violence. Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat were blowing up, showcasing students protesting outside their schools with signs and chants. The students of Parkland decided to take the protesting to a whole new level. They were planning to hold a march in Washington, D.C on Saturday, March 24th; true to their word, there was indeed a march. Deemed March For Our Lives, people in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, India, Africa, Europe and more, marched for their rights to live without fear of their peers.
Parkland student, Cameron Kasky, stood in Washington, D.C on stage and stated, “Welcome to the revolution … My generation has spent our entire lives seeing mass shooting after mass shooting, and that needs to end now.”
Two days after the Parkland shooting, student Emma Gonzalez gave a speech at the Fort Lauderdale rally that left many people with goose bumps and a need to make a change. Her speech was six minutes and 20 seconds, which was exactly how long it took Nikolas Cruz to kill seventeen people and destroy the lives of plenty more. The last line of Gonzalez’s speech left the crowd speechless. She stated, “Fight for your lives before it is someone else’s job.”
After a very successful rally, the students of Parkland continue to receive underlying support, as well as hate and criticism. In fact, one of the criticizers is one of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s own student, Kyle Kashuv. He has spoken out numerous times regarding where he stands on the Parkland shooting, which is the opposite of where most students at the high school stand. Kashuv is pro-gun and wants the world to know it. He has debated against the protestors, and continues to ask why he wasn’t invited to give a speech. I wonder why Kashuv?
Since the school shooting at Parkland, Kashuv has met with lawmakers in Washington to conduct a way to stop school shootings and massacres without changing or infringing on gun rights. Kashuv calls himself a very big supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes we shouldn’t take away people’s right to buy and own a weapon. But regardless of the negative feedback or opposite views of their own, the Parkland students that organized March For Our Lives are continuing to make a change. They are still fighting to change gun laws and to prevent more school shootings from happening.
March For Our Lives is a step in the right direction. Regardless of where someone stands on gun laws and violence, we are all blessed with a voice. We all have the ability to speak out if we agree and disagree with something and that in itself is a beautiful gift. So use your voice. Don’t be afraid of what could happen. Get out there and make a change. Every voice counts – even yours.