“Did you hear about what happened in Florida?” one of my friends in class asks me.
“No, what happened today?” I reply.
“17 people were killed in a school shooting.”
On any given day, I normally would have expressed immediate sympathy for those that were killed in the Parkland shooting on Valentine’s Day. But instead, I fell silent. I bowed my head immediately and thought to myself:
“Not another one.”
The reality of school shootings is starting to become an all too familiar trend. We hear about the shooting, we have thoughts and prayers, the politicians we elected say some BS about gun control, and then we move on.
Not this time.
This time, the conversation is turning out to be quite different. Instead of the usual thoughts and prayers and vigils, the survivors and community of Parkland are speaking out. Since the school shooting, Parkland survivors have been calling BS against the NRA and the Trump administration, staging lie-in protests outside the White House, and even hosting a town hall with CNN and directly speaking to lawmakers like Marco Rubio to demand answers for change.
The outspoken teens of Parkland reminded me greatly of those from Columbine. In Michael Moore’s 2002 documentary, Bowling for Columbine, two survivors from the Columbine shooting travelled from Colorado to Michigan with the sole purpose of demanding that Kmart - the retailer who sold ammunition to the Columbine gunmen - to cease their ammunition sales in their nationwide stores. With the help of Michael Moore and the press, the survivors got the justice they wanted: Kmart ceased their sales of handgun ammunition and phased out their sales within 90 days of the announcement.
The reason why I’m bothering to bring up Bowling for Columbine is because in the wake of the Parkland shooting, corporate response to Parkland has been adding to the gun debate. Multiple companies have severed ties with the NRA by removing their discounts with the quote-unquote “non-profit” organization. Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart have changed their gun policies, stating that they are not selling guns to anyone under the age of 21.
While this response is all well and good, and that it’s corporate America’s choice to decide who they do business with, I frankly think that we can do better than just relying on corporations to make a true difference.
If you, like me, are tired of hearing “There has been another school shooting…” on the news, if you are tired of listening to the BS politicians say “I hear you” and claim to mean it from the heart, if you are tired of seeing towns across America experience the unfortunate power of guns against innocent citizens, then I have one solution to the gun debate that I know will sound cheesy and overused by now, but makes the most outright sense:
Vote for who agrees on your stances in gun control. Vote for politicians who you think stand to make a difference in the gun debate. While the solution to gun control may not immediately be in sight, we have to consider who we put into office who will help shape future discussions on guns. Politicians, despite how much they are ridiculed nowadays (*ahem*, #45), politicians have the power to make a change to the current state of gun use in this country.
Make a difference in the debate about guns this November in the midterm elections.
Go out and vote.
I know I will.