What Th Parkland Students' 'Never Again' Movement Is All About
Start writing a post
Gun Control

The Parkland Kids Started A Conversation About Gun Violence, But It's On Us To Keep The 'Never Again' Movement Alive

The Parkland students grabbed the attention of an entire nation. They proved that the NRA is not invincible and real change can come as a result of putting pressure on elected officials.

41
Row of guns lined up

America has a serious gun violence issue. While people have some pretty polarizing views when it comes to how we should solve this issue, most folks agree that our country's sky-high rates of gun violence are unacceptable and need to be fixed some way, somehow. 2017 alone brought us a total of 346 mass shootings and 65 school shootings reported on school campuses in the United States alone. 2017 also was the year of the infamous Las Vegas massacre which left 58 people dead and more than 500 people injured, becoming the most deadly mass-shooting our country has ever seen.

And the truth is, these numbers don't even accurately reflect the reach gun violence truly has. The most accepted definition for a "mass shooting" is "four or more individuals being shot or killed in the same general time and location." The number of mass shootings is often seen as the benchmark for how serious a threat of gun violence in America is because these events receive massive amounts of media coverage. However, this doesn't account for those killed by gun-related homicides, suicides, and accidents. In 2016, that number reached a whopping 38,658 gun deaths in the United States, according to the CDC.

Gun violence occurs so frequently in the United States that it has become ingrained in our culture and normalized to a large extent. Gun homicides are mainly covered on local news stations and are never really viewed as "breaking news" that deserves extensive coverage. It has come to the point where the vast majority of mass shootings are just blips in the news cycle. It's not that the American public has grown apathetic. There are simply too many gun-related tragedies to give proper time to each one. It doesn't help that the fast-paced nature of media coverage makes it difficult to rally behind a cause in the wake of yet another shooting.

The few times when a shooting has received extensive coverage in recent years, it has been for its extraordinary circumstances. The slaughter of a bunch of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary became the deadliest American primary school shooting, the massacre at a Charleston church was intended to start a race war, and the Pulse Night Club shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history before the Las Vegas shooting claimed the title just a year later. Each of these shootings renewed debate about gun control in the United States on more universally agreeable pieces of legislation whether it be universal background checks, mandatory waiting periods, banning the sale of bump stocks and certain semi-automatic weapons, and more funding allocated towards mental health programs.

Despite all of the discussion of gun reform, the legislative victories were few and far between for the most part. There would be no massive wave of new, strengthened gun control laws passed by all of the state legislatures, and the federal government didn't pass any sweeping reforms either.

However, after the shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018, it seemed as if this era of tragedy followed by legislative inaction was finally coming to a close.

The Parkland shooting under normal circumstances would have likely been more akin to a blip in the national news feed and would have faded into irrelevancy within a week or so of the initial reports. While 17 students and staff members were tragically killed, by this point in time Americans were used to hearing about massive shootings with triple the number of casualties.

But the Parkland shooting was far from a blip. Primetime press coverage lasted for months. This time instead of the media's usual coverage focusing on the sheer awfulness of the situation, the surviving students quickly took control of the narrative and refocused the storyline on preventing similar tragedies from happening again. Students were given a national platform, and they ran with it to encourage others to join their movement to demand gun control reform. A select few of these students-turned-activists such as Emma Gonzalez and David Miles Hogg became household names and achieved a celebrity-icon status that many increasingly politically engaged youths could look up to. The students, their parents, and the staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas quickly founded the political action committee Never Again MSD to demand legislative action regarding firearms. They organized a national school walk-out and the March for Our Lives which saw millions of young people across the country protest to end government inaction regarding gun reform.

While attempts have been made before in the wake of prior widely-reported mass shootings to begin gun reform movements, a few key elements allowed the Never Again movement to succeed whereas those before it was never quite able to build up any traction. The first being that the students who stepped forward to give a voice to the movement came from a relatively affluent community with a good educational system and were old enough to eloquently communicate their feelings and facts about gun control and its importance to those who may have been apprehensive. Yet, at the same time, as high schoolers, they were also relatable to a younger teenage demographic. The Never Again movement worked to ensure that they stayed in the press long enough to put pressure on legislators by making many high profile appearances in the news, on talk shows, meeting with the President, and most notably organizing the March for Our Lives and the national school walk-out. The movement also owes some of its success to President Trump, who, after his election, inadvertently caused many people who were concerned about his presidency to pay attention and get involved politically for the first time.

Perhaps most importantly, the students were unapologetic about calling out unreceptive politicians by name who received campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association. It was made abundantly clear that politicians who pushed the agendas of the NRA above those of their young constituents would soon be voted out of office.

The Never Again movement's bold and aggressive strategies appear to have finally cracked the code in terms of accomplishing wide-scale gun reform. In the nearly six months since the massacre, legislators in 26 states passed 55 gun safety bills. While the majority of these states were unsurprisingly blue states, deep red states such as Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, and South Dakota went against the conservative grain and enacted gun reforms as well. Even Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who previously held an A-plus rating given to him by the NRA, signed a set of bills that barred individuals deemed a danger to themselves or others from purchasing a firearm and raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21.

But has it been enough? Has America's issue of systemic gun violence finally been solved once and for all? The answer is no, not really. Incidents of gun violence on every measure whether it be mass shootings, school shootings, or total gun deaths are consistent with America's sky-high figures from previous years. There are still countless vocal groups of people who see any aim at gun reform as a malicious infringement upon their 2nd Amendment rights. While 26 states did pass gun safety bills, the other 24 state governments opted not to. Many states' legislative victories concerning gun control came in the form of failing to pass bills that would actually loosen guns laws rather than strengthen them. The last time Congress passed major gun control legislation was in 1994 and the provisional ban of 19 types of semi-automatic firearms failed to be renewed in 2004. Even Governor Rick Scott who was heralded as a newfound champion for common sense gun reform signed a provision allowing trained school staff to carry handguns.

This is not to say the Never Again movement came up short by any means. The numerous gun safety bills passed by state legislatures haven't yet had adequate time to take effect. The Parkland students grabbed the attention of an entire nation and opened up a national dialogue that had previously simmered down. They proved that the NRA is not invincible and real change can come as a result of putting pressure on elected officials. And, most importantly, they inspired a new generation of political activism that has just begun.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1330566

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

830066
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

807095
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

521736
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

326153
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

458199

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

311125

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

209493
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments