On February 14, 2018, while most of America was celebrating Valentine's day with kisses, hugs and exchanges of gratitude, the community of Parkland, Florida was grieving over the events that had took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, that would claim the lives of 17 innocent victims. The school shooting left the Florida community heartbroken; but also inspired action and movement to be taken by parents, children and legislators for another similar event to be stopped in the future.
At a standstill, we still argue whether gun reform is breaking constitutional rights and if mental illness is the cause, while the opposite spectrum argue in favor of restriction, abolishment and safety protocols. Whether or not we are able to come to a conclusion, helping the families of the victims is number one priority. Those who lost their lives in the tragedy were victims of a bigger problem in society. It is up to us to help those left behind in wake of the tragedy; the true victims who have to not only fight the grief of the loss of their loved ones, but society, too, in order to change to occur.
1. Help those hurt from the shooting by donating blood.
Along with the casualties, many were hurt from flying glass and from ducking for cover and were injured in the process. Teams like the organization One Blood have come together to host blood drives to collect blood and help those hurt in the tragedy.
This is a great way for those distant from the attack to still be able to help out, whether it may be from participating in a blood drive nearby or simply sending a donation towards their cause. Though we can not save the 17 who died, by donating blood, you can increase the chances of the other victims' survival.
2. Help stop another potential shooting by voicing your opinion to Congress.
Sadly, the Parkland shooting is the 30th mass shooting of 2018, emphasizing the importance of action needed to be taken now rather than later. Though total restriction of heavy firearms may be difficult, by voicing your opinion to your Congress member, you are able to at least shed importance and recognition to this rising issue in order to prevent such an event repeating itself.
If stronger background checks are placed before selling a gun, this would make it increasingly difficult for those who shouldn't possess firearms to get hold of them. As time moves, more followers and supporters can be gained to reach the full intention of total abolishment. But a first push is needed to move mountains.
3) Help stop another shooting by becoming politically active and march for gun control.
Across the country on March 14, students and teachers are participating in walk-outs, when for 17 minutes, they will leave school and honor those who died. Participating would draw attention from higher authorities and shine light to the importance and true foundations of the issue: school and safety protocols.
We have failed to see that the killers who cause such events begin and grow within our school system — they also learn all the safety protocols and drills, which can be easily bypassed as seen in Parkland. A "fire drill" turned deadly is just one of the reasons why it's necessary that schools update their safety standards to protect students within such dangerous situations. If you are not within the school system, you can still march for gun reform and reform within the educational system as rallies are being organized on a national scale to pressure Congress for change.
You can find a rally near you through going to States United to Prevent Gun Violence and finding your home state. From here, you'll be able to find and know where grassroots organizations are taking place around you and exactly how you can participate.
4. Help the victims by donating to the official Parkland Victims' GoFundMe page.
There has been an official fund, marked by GoFundMe and backed by a trustable non-profit organization, made for the Parkland victims to help cover the costs of their funerals and help the 17 grieving families who have lost their children, fathers and mothers. So far, it has raised almost $1.7 million dollars for the families, showing the power we hold and influence we can create whether or not we are able to be there in person. If distance is a factor, simply donating can go a long way.
5. Most importantly, help out through talking and spreading the word about reforming gun possession.
Tragedies are hard for anyone to manage through, emotionally and mentally, so it is also important to talk about what was witnessed and share your thoughts with professional counselors or people you trust. This way, you're not only recovering from the grief in a healthy manner, but you're also spreading ideas and getting the word out about restriction of firearms, which can be a touchy topic. Especially with children, who are most vulnerable as they do not realize the danger, it is important to emphasize that guns are not toys and explain the idea of death, if the child is old enough.
Spreading awareness spreads safety, concern and increases the importance of why we need to discuss such topics. Without discussion, change can not be put into place within society, which sadly creates the opportunity for such a sad event to occur again.
Rest in peace to all victims of the Florida High School Shooting. May their families find comfort in their loved ones being in a better place; may justice be served to all guilty parties.