Column: Parkland shooting survivors are changing the way we react to tragedy

The March For Our Lives and Never Again movement are powerful tools to change the way Americans react to school shootings.
A protest in response to the Feb. 15 Parkland, Florida, shooting. courtesy of March for Our Lives

Madi Baughman is a freshman journalism and political science major at MU. She is an opinions columnist who writes about political and civil rights issues for The Maneater.

At the normally calm, quiet Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, nobody ever expected for tragedy to strike — but when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a student who had been expelled from the high school, killed 17 people on Feb. 14, everything changed.

Looking into the shooter’s past, there were many warning signs that this was something he could have been planning for a while. Five months before the shooting, the FBI was warned about Cruz’s comment on a YouTube video, claiming that he was going to be “a professional school shooter,” but there’s uncertainty about how the FBI could have stopped this. There were also signs that he was not mentally stable — proof of him cutting his arms, suffering from depression and putting hate symbols and racial slurs on his backpack all emerged, but he was still legally allowed to obtain 10 firearms.

However, the survivors of the shooting aren’t going to let this one go so easily. In the midst of their grief, they’ve been active in speaking out, talking to their representatives and even organizing a movement to ensure this never happens again. The Never Again movement was born out of tragedy in the hopes of ensuring that Stoneman Douglas would be, in the survivors’ words, “the last school shooting.” They are doing everything in their power to make sure that no student ever has to go through this in the future.

The movement’s main policy goal is to call for stricter background checks for gun buyers, a common cause that stretches across both parties. In fact, states that already have more extensive background checks have been linked to lower crime rates. It has also organized the March For Our Lives on March 24, where thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Washington, as well as many sister marches across the country to protest the lack of action being taken about gun violence in America. They are taking it upon themselves to create action where the adults often fail, and this is what is going to turn the tide.

These students have shown remarkable resolve and determination to bring justice to their fallen friends, and they’re not backing down, even though the odds seem to be against them. These kids are the real deal; they’re the future. They are reminding America that the tragedy that happened to them wasn’t an accident, wasn’t a natural disaster; it’s something that could have been prevented. I truly believe that the actions they’re taking will have an impact on American politics for the better.

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