Parkland Teens Reveal the Future of America

Image courtesy of Lorie Shaull | Flickr

Eileen Taing

On the afternoon of Feb. 14, 2018, a nineteen year old boy, Nikolas Cruz, purchased an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He pulled the fire alarm and began firing at students and teachers. Seventeen lives were lost. As a result of this deadly shooting, many teens are speaking out against gun violence and gun control.

Teens are the future; younger generations currently are actively promoting change and a promise for a better, different future. This has been seen in previous years. Soon after the Sandy Hook School shooting in 2012 there were many instances of people, including teens, demanding gun control. A White House petition was created which garnered 200,000 signatures within a week of the shooting.

In response to Sandy Hook, President Obama announced that Vice President Joe Biden would form an an inter-agency gun violence task force. The following year, President Obama announced a plan to reduce gun violence. This plan included four parts: closing background check loopholes, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, making schools safer, and increasing access to mental health services. Though the plan was announced, no legislation regarding gun control has passed.

Since the Parkland shooting, many teens in Orlando and nationwide are organizing marches and campaigns in order to raise the government’s awareness of their demands. EMPOWER, a Woman’s March youth branch, is organizing an “Enough WalkOut,” which will be held on Mar. 14. In addition, the survivors from the Parkland shooting are organizing a protest, “March For Our Lives” in Washington D.C., on Mar. 24. The National Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools is set to be Apr. 20. This event will encourage students to attend school and walk out.

If the older generations and government officials do not listen to the youth, even more disastrous and heartbreaking events might happen. Since no legislation on gun control has passed, it is still quite easy to have access to guns; the possibility of more mass shootings in the future is real, and the likelihood of them occurring is not lower. For instance, in June 2016 there was a mass shooting inside a nightclub called Pulse in Orlando, Florida. In October 2017 there was another mass shooting inside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Mesquite, Nevada. Without government action, such shootings will only occur with increasing frequency.

These movements will be effective because many people nationwide are rising up and rallying for change. The level of active support and organization may have pushed the nation is on the brink of passing gun control legislation.

In previous years, there have been situations where many members of society demanded change, but the government failed to respond. A perfect example of this is during the Civil Rights Movement. The youth presence during the fight for civil rights for all was strong. In the early years of the movement, much of the federal government ignored the activists’ demands. Issues such as Jim Crow or segregation in the military remained unresolved.

Many young people led marches and sit-ins to protest such problems. Government officials continued to ignore them. Southern governors sent police to forcefully remove sit-in participants. It was not until later, when the government started to pay attention and finally reverse some of the government policies, that the Civil Rights movement succeed in obtaining some of their demands.

The teens’ response in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting reveals that their generation is indeed the future. They are the ones that are pioneering change by actively organizing marches and walkouts. If we don’t enact strive to create at least some of the change these teens seek, even more detrimental events could be right around the corner.