How Teen-Led Protests Could Forever Change The Gun Control Fight

02.20.18 6 months ago 23 Comments

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“We’re children,” 17-year-old David Hogg said to CNN just after the shooting that claimed the lives of 17 of his classmates, “You guys are the adults.”

It was an emotional plea from the teen to lawmakers, begging them to take action against gun violence. Adults, as Hogg had seen in the years leading up to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th, weren’t willing to make the policy changes necessary to make schools safer for the kids they’d vowed to serve. So, he urged them to, “look in the mirror and take some action because ideas are great but without action, ideas stay ideas and children die.”

Hogg’s powerful words made immediate headlines. In this climate, where politicians are quick to deflect responsibility after a tragedy by insisting that “now isn’t the time to talk about policy change,” it’s significant for a victim of such tragedy to say that now is the time, and announce without fear: enough is enough.

The teens who survived the shooting last week, and many of their peers from around the country, are tired of waiting for politicians and other adults to dictate their futures, to play fast and loose with their safety in school. The adults simply aren’t getting the job done. The kids aren’t all right. They’re going to school each morning in fear. So they’ve begun to mobilize and we — the adults — so used to talking over their heads, should fall in line.

In a time when the NRA has managed to cloud the anti-gun control message and make it seem fragmented, teenagers are being both clear and direct: They’re finished with special interest groups controlling government officials. They’re ready to fight back against the National Rifle Association’s oligarchical hold on gun control legislation. This is the strong leadership the issue has required for so long.

Students like Hogg may be young, but in his willingness to stand up against the ineffective and corrupt in power, he’s become crucial to the movement.

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Huddled just a day earlier in the dark with 30-40 other students, Hogg filmed his classmates while they listened to gunfire shatter the peace of their school halls, and interviewed them about what was happening in real time. He did this, in part because if they were going to be killed, he wanted their voices to be heard. Now, having lived through this ordeal, Hogg still wants his fellow students’ voices to be heard.

For their parts, Hogg’s classmates are also doing an incredible job of speaking out. Students like 18-year-old Emma Gonzalez, who passionately spoke at a Fort Lauderdale rally this weekend, are demanding we hold politicians and the NRA responsible for allowing Nikolas Cruz to legally purchase an AR-15 assault rifle capable of firing 30 rounds without reloading. The fact that this was the same gun Adam Lanza used to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary school five years earlier was lost on exactly no one.

“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” Gonzalez said to the crowd. “But, hey, you wanna know something? It doesn’t matter because I already know: $30 million.”

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