On February 14th, 2018, America faced a tragedy. 17 students, teachers, and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida lost their lives to a mass shooter. A pattern is arising in America, and now more than ever is the issue of gun control a strong debate. Is now the right time to talk about this, when so many families are grieving their children? If we are talking about this, how can I, as one person, make any difference?

If you, like many other people, are concerned about when/how to use your voice, take some time to read this.

When is the right time to speak up?

There have been various debates and public outcry over the idea of talking about gun control so soon. The ethics behind the way we as citizens handle tragedies has been questioned since Wednesday afternoon, and a good amount of American citizens believe that it's disrespectful to the victims and their families to bring politics into the discussion so soon.

Many other people have taken to Twitter to voice their opinions, passionate about how gun control is a conversation that needs to be said sooner than later.

While it may be easy to think that you're respecting the wishes of the student population at Douglas by simply sending "thoughts and prayers," the students themselves would have to disagree. Stoneman Douglas students, faculty, and alumni are not only stating very explicitly the importance of having these types of conversations, but have also organized school walk-outs, marches, and various interviews about the topic of gun control.


Now that I know when to speak up, how do I take action?

1. Donate

Here are links to various GoFundMe's/donation pages/merchandise you can buy, and where the money you donate will be going:

Love MSD: This organization is selling t-shirts for $20 dollars each, with all of the proceeds going to victims families, first responders, and Stoneman Douglas High School memorial fund.

3HeartStrings: Three teenage girls from South Florida are making a difference with their fabric bracelets. 100% of the proceeds will go to charity, and all MSD-themed bracelets are $5.

Broward County GoFundMe: The GoFundMe page created by the Broward County school district has already raised almost 1.9 million dollars, but you can help them get to their goal of $2 million. All proceeds will be used to provide relief and financial support to the victims and their families.

Donate blood: OneBlood has been in urgent need of O-neg blood that will be used to help the victims who are still in need of assistance. If you are in/around the Parkland area, consider finding a donation station near you.

Swim For Nick: The family of one of the 17 victims, Nicholas Dworet, have set up a donation page where all proceeds will go to TS aquatics as they start a foundation in memory of Nicholas called "Swim For Nick."

Alex Schachter: The Schachter family has set up this donation page in memory of their son Alex, one of the victims. All proceeds will go to MSD Marching Eagles, the marching band where Alex loved to play the trombone.

Meadow Pollack: This fund, created by the friends and family of victim Meadow Pollack, has been created in order to help Meadow's single mother Shara with funeral expenses and counseling.

Support for Missy and Maddy: The family and friends of Missy and Maddy Wilford have created a GoFundMe to help the mother and daughter. Maddy was injured in the shooting, and all donations will go towards the Wilford family's immediate needs.

Martin Duque: This page, created by the brother of victim Martin Dugue, will ensure that all of Martin's extended family will be able to make his funeral, even those relatives who live as far away as Mexico.

Alyssa Alhadeff: The friends and loved ones of victim Alyssa Alhadeff's family have created this page to collect funds for the Alhadeff family as they struggle to find peace during this difficult time.

For the Hixons: Chris Hixon lost his life after being injured in the shooting. He was a faculty member of MSD, and all donations will be used at the discretion of the Hixon family.

Joaquin Oliver: This page was created for the family of victim Joaquin Oliver, with all donations going to the family.

In Honor of Our Fallen Hero: The Douglas Gridiron Club, the booster program for MSD football, has set up this GoFundMe in honor of athletic director and MSD factulty member Aaron Feis. All proceeds will go directly to the Feis family.

UF to DC: The student body of the University of Florida are raising money to send students to the "March For Our Lives" protest in Washington D.C. on March 24th. All donations will ensure that every student that wants to gets transportation to Washington, and any surplus money will be donated to the Broward County GoFundMe page mentioned above.

Lives Before Guns: Lives Before Guns was created by young adults in South Florida as a platform to provide support and resources to mass shooting victims and their families.

**This list has been updated as of 2/21/18 and will be continuously updated as more resources arise**

2. Get in touch with representatives

First of all, you need to know who to call. Here is a list of every congress member being paid by the NRA to vouch for support for more lenient gun laws, as well as a list of representatives in Florida that voted against the possibility of introducing a conversation about the current gun laws in place in Florida:

Now that you know who to speak to, here's how to contact Congress:

Capitol switchboard phone number: (202)-224-3121

Call the number above, and tell the operator which representative you wish to speak to. You want to find which representative from YOUR STATE you want to speak to, because your call won't count if you're not a resident of that state.You'll then be connected to someone from the office of the representative you wish to speak to. Simply give them your message for the representative, and your voice will be heard

Try to use specifics that pertain to you personally. Talk about which laws you'd like to see put into place, and how the decisions made by your representatives will be affecting your future voting.

**This website is a great resource on how to write a letter to your representatives if you'd prefer that over making a phone call**

3. Take to the streets

A great way to make your voice heard is to join the thousands of people who are staging walk-outs, protests, and marches advocating for gun control. Here are some upcoming events:

March 14th, 2018: National School Walkout

The people who organized Women's March have called upon high school students and faculty to make their voices heard by staging a high school walkout. On March 14th at 10 a.m., high school students throughout the country will walk out of their classrooms for 17 minutes.

March 24th, 2018: March For Our Lives

Created by the student body of Stoneman Douglas, a nationwide march will be held to end gun violence and mass shootings in schools. The main march will be held in Washington D.C., but marches will also be planned in various communities across the country at the same time. Subscribe to their website to find out more information on how to participate.

April 20th, 2018: National School Walkout

Connecticut high school student Lane Murdock is in the process of organizing a high school walkout on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. Plans are still in the air but a Change.org petition has been created (and has almost reached it's goal of 150 thousand signatures), and they have an official Twitter page.

Various spontaneous walkouts have also been popping up since the 14th, so be on the lookout for a march near you. Here is a list of all the schools in South Florida that have staged a walkout.

**This list has been updated as of 2/21/18 and will be continuously updated as more resources arise**

4. VOTE!

One of the main reasons our country isn't seeing any change in policy is due to the people we have in office. Luckily, midterm elections are coming up this November and we have the power to vote the wrong people out of office, and the right people in. If you are currently 18 years old or will be by November 6th and you haven't registered to vote, you should do so as soon as possible.

Here is a link that will give you everything you need to know to register to vote. Use the resources above to research which representatives are being given money by the NRA and/or are voting against gun reform laws.

5. Never stop

Never in history has our generation had so much passion for an issue such as gun control. The #NeverAgain movement was created by Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky to ensure that the shooting at Douglas will be the last mass school shooting America will have to face. Join the conversation on Twitter with the #NeverAgain hashtag, and make your opinions heard. We must not stand stagnant and assume that we can't make a difference because this past week has proven that we can.

Now is the time to stand in solidarity with Kasky and everyone else affected by the Douglas shooting. Now is the time to use our voice. Now is the time to make a change. Never again.