Students Flip the Script on Gun Violence


"Stand with us or beware, the voters are coming", Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, told the crowd. The March for Our Lives rally was organized by students after a gunman walked into a Parkland, Florida, high school last month and killed 17 students and staff.

So when she heard about a gun-violence research project at Stanford University that could use the statistical skills she had honed on pharmaceuticals, she jumped at the chance.

Julia Howell, senior at Topeka High School, called on her peers to fight for change.

"What's really powerful about this March for Our Lives movement is the perpetuation of the conversation that us, the teens, are forcing to be in the limelight by always have an event going on, by always having the conversation there".

"If they don't keep it up, those that want no change will just sit on their hands", Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican who formerly served in Congress, said on CNN. And last month, four bills on extending DACA protections failed in the Senate. When Americans react to the kind of tragedies these towns have experienced, we often wonder how something so violent could have happened in such a supposedly harmless community.

The March for Our Lives made a conscious effort to say "All lives mattered" onstage, and for once, that was not an insult, because of the seamless organic integration of black perspectives and black lives. "You know what, it's been up for a long time".

As Deborah Betts, a protestor from Maryland, explains, "My daughter is a kindergarten teacher, and I left teaching myself 42 years ago because a student came after me with a gun and shot my auto". It's important to me because I am in immigrant. "There needs to be a change, and I thought that if I came here it could definitely help".

"Tell me if I'm insane but how is it that it's 2018 and I go to school and I'm [more] anxious about what I do if there's an active shooter than my geometry test?" another student asked.

Third, Pariser said, these kids have given other students a playbook to follow the next time young people are targeted in a shooting.

"Saturday was a rallying cry for an emerging cohort that is clearly exhausted of adult inaction", Zornick said. He was Venezuelan, like me and we bonded over that. I shouldn't have to go home and be affected by gunshots. "If you think today is good, just wait for tomorrow". "It's like I'm a voice for my country, and I don't have an answer for anyone". With school shootings occurring almost every month, students, with the support of their families and teachers, are now making their voices heard. The organization develops youth to be empowered, informed and active citizens. It hasn't because the facts show that more guns create more violence, not less.

"To those politicians supported by the NRA that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say get your resumes ready", David Hogg, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, said at the main rally in Washington.

We had seen it all before. Calling themselves the Pennridge 225, students from the Bucks County school have gone viral on social media by turning Saturday detentions for walking out of class to protest gun violence into weekly sit-in protests. Our guns are safe.

To accomplish the change they are fighting for, Damien Gilbert, state president of the Kansas Young Democrats, called for American youth to register and vote in local, state and federal elections, including midterm elections. Arming teachers and arming police officers even more will just increase the rates of dropouts in schools. This article was written in collaboration with the PBS NewsHour's Student Reporting Labs.