The United States is the only country in the world that allows its school students to die in such record numbers despite not being besieged by war. After almost every shooting, the same saga plays out between gun reform advocates and pro-gun lawmakers, with the former group attempting to highlight the role of guns in such tragedies, and the latter vehemently denying that guns have anything to do with school massacres.
After 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at an affluent suburban school using an AR-15 in Florida, we braced for another round of deflection, hits and punches, and blame games. We expected anti-gun activists to once again talk about the easiness of access to military grade weapons in states such as Florida, and we expected the likes of Fox News to kill the debate by stating that it was not the right time to talk immediately after such a massacre.
We expected the NRA to continue to be irresponsible, and use the opportunity to sell more guns with their “a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun” theory and similar parables that they reflexively churn out after every gun tragedy.
In short, we did not expect any tangible change, but how wrong we could have been.
I really want America to listen to these #ParklandStudents. They really still believe in #AMERICA. And justice. It is naive but so beautiful. If we fail at #guncontrol now it's like America will die all over again. Right now, it actually has a chance to change. #neveragain pic.twitter.com/89hu92xOKz— Josh Fox (@joshfoxfilm) February 22, 2018
Having suffered the worst brunt of the Parkland massacre, school students who lost their friends and parents who lost their children seemed to have realized that nobody will talk on their behalf — that, if they want changes to existing gun laws — they will have to do the bidding themselves.
This difference in reaction was evident the day after the shooting when students and victims’ of gun violence assembled in Florida’s Fort Lauderdale and called out the hypocrisy of the NRA and the lawmakers it funds for their campaigns. Students like Emma Gonzales, Carly Novell, and Cameron Kasky became household names for their spirited attack on lawmakers pretending to act in the interests of the students or their constituencies.
Sure enough, they were noticed for their passion and their willingness to actually bring the gun debate to a culmination. Less than a week after the grotesque massacre, nationwide protests have been called, millionaires are donating money for students to walk into Washington and ask tough questions, and they are being afforded opportunities to question the NRA and lawmakers in front of national audiences.
And when these students, parents, and teachers got the opportunity, well, just see how they tore into NRA’s flimsy arguments and strengthened their case in front of the entire nation.
The is the must-watch video of this moment: teenagers confronting politicians about the dark money flooding and corrupting politics https://t.co/9I5U3bliUv— James West (@jameswest2010) February 22, 2018
Sen. Marco Rubio is confronted by Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the Parkland shooting: “Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids ... and you will work with us to do something about guns” #StudentsStandUp https://t.co/6HhA3qstzT— Deena Zeina Zaru (@Deena_CNN) February 22, 2018
Student Emma Gonzalez: Do you believe it should be harder to obtain semi-automatic weapons?— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) February 22, 2018
NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch: "I don't believe that this insane monster should have ever been able to obtain a firearm" #StudentsStandUp https://t.co/qWz6prxpkC