#NeverAgain

Molly Murch, Staff Writer

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“Please, we’re children. You guys are the adults,” Stoneman Douglas senior David Hogg said in a CNN interview following the recent shooting at his high school in Florida. He explains that, for adults, our politicians seem to be doing little to nothing to make change. This plea for action expresses the survivors’, and our country’s, frustration with the seemingly never-ending mass shootings. For too long, politicians’ inadequate “actions” and our sluggish progress have come at the cost of innocent lives.

One would think that after each mass shooting, citizens and the government would unite to prevent further incidents. However, it seems that greed plays a significant role in what actually happens. For decades, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has donated millions of dollars to politicians, with hopes that they oppose gun regulation. President Donald Trump, specifically, received over $30 million from the NRA during the presidential election, according to TIME magazine. The NRA’s attempts to put leaders who will resist gun regulation into power is appalling but effective.

However, Generation Z is not standing back to watch this nightmare continue. A handful of survivors from the Parkland, FL shooting are going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that no student, educator, or parent experiences what they went through. Almost immediately after the tragic events in Parkland, they amassed a nationwide following of millions of supporters who have joined them to confront the government on their “pathetic” comments and actions.

Some of the most outspoken students include David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Emma González and Sarah Chadwick. Alongside dozens of their classmates, they traveled to Florida’s capital on Feb. 20 to speak at rallies, do interviews, and convince politicians to reign in gun violence. Powerful and heartfelt, their speeches demanded gun control, and actually making change, as opposed to just talking about it. No longer will they accept the government’s claim that “gun control will not stop mass shootings”.

“The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us,” González said at a Fort Lauderdale rally. “And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call BS.”

One of the most common arguments is that crises could be avoided with more mental health management. While many admit that mental stability plays a part, we must recognize that there are multiple contributors, namely gun control.

As discovered by the University of Alabama, the U.S. holds 5% of the world’s population, yet experiences 31% of the world’s mass shootings. This is mainly due to the simple fact that other countries have stricter gun laws.

Take Australia, which hasn’t had a mass shooting since 1996, the same year they implemented the NFA (National Firearms Agreement). The agreement extended the wait time necessary to purchase a weapon to 28 days, compared to the seven minutes it reportedly took Helen Ubiñas, a journalist from The Philadelphia Inquirer, to purchase an AR-15 in June of 2016. It is also important to note that the U.S. is no more prone to mental illnesses than other countries.

“Mental health is a global issue, so why are school shootings just an issue in America?” Timothy Laroque, a student survivor said.

According to a 2016 study led by Duke University Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Jeffrey Swanson, most people suffering from mental illnesses do not participate in violent behavior. Furthermore, most violent behavior stems from things other than mental illnesses.  

We discipline 19 year-old Nikolas Cruz because he pulled the trigger, but we fail to realize that we permitted him to. As reported by a federal law enforcement official, the AR-15 that Cruz used was legally purchased. When it is easier for a teenager with no tactical training to obtain an automatic weapon than a driver’s license or a name change, it is evident that our priorities are out of order.

It should not be hard to understand that our government’s meager efforts have not done enough. It should not be difficult to understand that if we want to protect the next generation, those raising the next generation, and those educating the next generation, we must do more.

If our leaders hesitate, we will push forward. We will fight. We will make our roaring voices heard, and we will not take no for an answer. Even one shooting is too many, but #NeverAgain.

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#NeverAgain