We’ve been through the lock-down drills: we get under our desks, the teacher locks the door and turns out the lights. Many of us remember the Sandy Hook mass shooting from 2012 that claimed 26 elementary school students and teachers. But not much has changed. Mass shootings in schools, night clubs, churches, etc. are now a regular occurence in the U.S. It seems that no amount of innocent civilian deaths can prompt any national gun control legislation. In present times however, with younger people becoming more politically active, steps can be taken to create real change: registering or pre-registering, and then showing up to vote once we turn 18.
On Valentine’s Day this year came the mass shooting of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. At first, we heard the typical response to the tragedy. Many offered “thoughts and prayers” and President Trump even suggested arming teachers. But then teenagers from the school got angry. In a widely circulated video, we saw Emma Gonzales articulate the frustration and determination for change that so many have been feeling.
Gonzales and her fellow students are demanding actual gun control reforms. They want laws passed to ban military-style assault weapons along with more extensive background checks before people can purchase guns. They appeared on national TV and even made the cover of Time magazine. They organized a nation-wide walk out to protest gun violence in America on March 14, exactly one month after the massacre.
Students in schools across America, including CVHS, and the world walked out of their class for 17 minutes, to commemorate the 17 victims in the Florida shooting.
So compelling is their case that they raised funds to support a series of marches across the country on Saturday, March 24, including “March for Our Lives” events in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Livermore. An entire movement has taken off thanks to a few brave kids who are demanding change.
At the Oakland event, speakers, mostly high school students, talked of changes that will come. “We are tired of hearing thoughts and prayers. We young people are tired of being labeled as a generation that is lazy and does nothing other than sit on their phones. We are tired of being questioned as to whether or not we are doing the right thing, only because we are young. We are tired. And we are tired of being tired. We know what we want. We know when we want it. But best of all, we won’t stop until we get what we deserve,” said Ivan Garcia, 15, one of the student organizers of the event.
Whatever your views on gun control, it’s time to get involved. The first thing we can do is vote for people who share our views on the question of gun control. Even 16 year olds can pre-register so they are already registered when they turn 18. Visit the California Secretary of State’s web site: www.sos.ca.gov/elections/pre-register-16-vote-18/ to sign up. The future is ours, if we claim it.