Imagine this: A building surrounded by barbed wire fencing. The single point of entry is through the front. You cannot enter said building without passing through a metal detector first. The entirety of the building is protected by armed guards. There are windows--bulletproof--small enough to where people cannot look very well inside.
What was the first thing that came to mind? Potentially a jail of some sort.
Well, what if David Hogg told you that this is exactly how the NRA proposes we protect our schools? Because that's what he had told me, and hundreds of other students at UConn.
David Hogg is a survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14th, 2018. Shortly after, he became an activist for gun violence and youth activism. As a writer for Nutmeg Publishing, I was initially just going to attend and cover the lecture he was giving to the student body. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was invited to the meet and greet dinner beforehand as well.
When I shook David's hand and explained that I was going to be covering his event that night, I asked him which key points I should really pay attention to. He told me the beginning of his speech was going to be key because it was then where he would delve into the NRA and the research (or should I say, lack of) done on background checks for firearm purchases. He then said I should be mindful of how the issue at hand is not the concept of Democrat vs Republic, it's the fact that humans are not caring about the issues that are happening in the world around them. Don't say--do.
Key takeaways I can say from the lecture and the dinner are as followed:
1. Don’t speak for other people
What we need is equal representation. You cannot solely represent everyone.
2. The government fears young organizers
There's a reason why the civil rights movement was not taught in school as a toolkit for children. There's a reason why you're automatically send a draft card at the age of 18, but not your voter's registration.
3. Have the conversation with America. We’re not a melting pot, we’re segregated
Contrary to common belief, we cannot call ourselves a melting pot when we push back asylum seekers and refugees, all while we sit on stolen land from the Natives.
4. Believe in equality of opportunities, not equality of outcome
Equality of outcome = Communism. Everyone should have a fair starting point, but it is up to them to decide their own outcome.
5. Segregation is like oil and water: You gotta keep shaking it or it’ll just go back
You have to continue to fight against the concept, because it will truly never go away completely.
6. History is centered around white nationalism
Need I say more?
7. White nationalists get mad when you talk about guns
Need I say more part two?
8. We’ve created a system that benefits off of gun violence
When gun violence occurs, the first thought is to arm yourself for protection. Arming yourself out of fear pays gun manufacturers, which pays the NRA. The NRA profits off of fear.
9. Do not lead in front of people, and do not lead behind people; lead with people
Unity is the only way we can approach something as substantial as youth activism.
10. The term “toxic masculinity” is toxic
"Toxic" has a bad connotation, and it defers males from being comfortable with themselves.
11. Activism is like a road going through a mountain: You have to keep your end goal in mind, despite the obstacles you may encounter on the way
Regardless of what may happen, know why you are on this road in the first place. You have places to be, and heading there is what you must do.
12. Movement building is not about long term. The most important tasks are the daily works
Take each and every little step day by day. Take what you can, and move on from there.
13. Politics revolve around small groups getting really mad
Congressmen will not listen unless they are spoken to. Do you want change? Demand it.
14. There is no research on the effectiveness of background checks for purchasing firearms
It's actually illegal to study it.
15. Toys are regulated more than guns
Guns are not protected under The Consumer Act.
16. The NRA looks out for gun manufacturers, not gun consumers
The NRA is funded by gun manufacturers that want to sell more guns. They buy advertising to worship weapons, as well as memberships.
17. This generation has the highest levels of depression and anxiety
Which is why we need to be focused on funding mental health rather than guns.
18. Gun violence must be talked about in all zip codes
Gun violence is viewed differently when you're in a white suburban neighborhood vs the slums of an urban area. Regardless of where, gun violence should be taken seriously equally on all playing fields.
19. The majority of gun deaths are suicides, predominately in white males
What it means to be a man is having the courage to talk about mental health, despite how highly stigmatized it is.
20. Voting is the #1 way to take down the rampant voter suppression system
The beginnings of taking down a tyrannical government start with YOUR vote