On Saturday, 17 December, survivors of Wednesday’s “deadliest US school shooting since 2012” at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, along with their parents and politicians, participated in a rally to, hopefully, change the laws that allowed Nikolas Cruz to purchase a gun and open fire at the school.
A video of one of the survivors, Emma Gonzalez, seems to have caught everyone’s attention as her emotionally charged speech to US lawmakers and President Trump himself demanded that this would be “the last mass shooting”.
“The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us,” she professed. “And us kids seems to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call BS. Companies are trying to make caricatures of the teenagers nowadays, saying that all we are is self-involved and trend-obsessed, and they hush us into submissions when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation... we are prepared to call BS.”
- Also read: Read this mom's emotional post on the importance of love and kindness in the aftermath of the Vegas shooting
Emma highlighted the fact that while it has since been confirmed that the shooter has mental issues, “we need to pay attention to the fact that this isn’t just a mental health issue... He wouldn’t have harmed as many students with a knife!” she exclaimed.
“How about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter’s fault. The fault of the people who let him buy the guns in the first place. Those at the gun shows. The people that encouraged him to buy accessories for his guns to make them fully automatic. The people who didn’t take it away from him when he expressed homicidal tendencies.”
In America, of course, as stipulated by the US Constitution, the Second Amendment reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
But Emma continues, “If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.
“But hey, you wanna know something? It doesn’t matter because I already know: $30 million! And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5 800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don’t do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.”
Emma continued to address the fact that time and time again, Constitution aside, things could have been done and put in place to prevent the selling of firearms, if they weren’t so interested in receiving money from the National Rifle Association.
“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you. If your money was as threatened as us, would your first thought be, how is this going to reflect on my campaign? Which should I choose? Or would you choose us? And if you answered us, would you act like it for once? You know what would be a good way to act like it? I have an example how not to act like it: In February of 2017, one year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses.”
She continued, “I don’t need a psychologist and I don’t need to be a psychologist to know that repealing that regulation was a really dumb idea.”
Similarly concerned about the gun laws that make it just too easy for someone to open fire at schools across America, Stacey Wehrman Feeley posted an image of her daughter on Facebook, standing on their bathroom toilet.
“I took this picture because initially I thought it was funny. I was going to send it to my husband to show what our mischievous little 3-year-old was up to. However, the moment she told me what she was doing I broke down. She was practising for a lockdown drill at her preschool and what you should do if you are stuck in a bathroom.”
Stacey continued, “Politicians - take a look. This is your child, your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren and future generations to come. They will live their lives and grow up in this world based on your decisions. They are barely 3 and they will hide in bathroom stalls standing on top of toilet seats. I do not know what will be harder for them? Trying to remain quiet for an extended amount of time or trying to keep their balance without letting a foot slip below the stall door?”
Stacey urged citizens to ban together and raise their voices to the powers that be, so things can start changing. Which is exactly what Emma and her fellow students plan on doing as they're organising a march on Washington on 24 March for their March for Our Lives campaign, while a national school walk-out has been planned for 20 April – the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.
Emma concluded, saying they will be anything but passive bystanders. “The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call BS. Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers nowadays, saying that all we are is self-involved and trend-obsessed, and they hush us into submissions when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS.”
“Politicians, who sit in their gilded house and senate seats, funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this. We call BS!”
"They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS!”
“They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS!”
“They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS!"
“They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS!”
“That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS!”
- Also read: Children and trauma: when bad stuff happens
Emma opened her speech with a strong message suggesting the teenagers we so easily overlook will be the ones who will make the change that is so desperately needed, saying, "If us students have learned anything, it is if you don't study you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing people will continually end up dead. So it's time to start doing something.
"We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks, not because we are going to be another statistic about mass shootings in America but because we are going to be the last mass shooting."
Do you think there should be stricer regulations in place and better gun control? Or do you feel lawmakers need to make away with allowing access to firearms altogether? Share your thoughts by commenting below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish your comments.
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