Less than 24 hours after the mass shooting that left 17 people dead at his Florida high school, a teenager looked directly into one of the countless television cameras, and showed more courage than any of the adults who have co-signed the deaths of kids by punting on gun control.
“We’re children,” David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, told CNN. “You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role.
“Work together. Come over your politics and get something done.”
On social media, other teenage survivors of Wednesday’s school shooting were equally blunt, fed up with thoughts and prayers from grown-ups who did nothing to save children before this massacre, and would do nothing to save those who will be victimized next.
“A gun has killed 17 of my fellow classmates,” a student named Kyra tweeted to Fox News’ Tomi Lahren after the conservative commentator urged the “Left” to stop its “anti-gunowner agenda” and claimed the massacre was not about guns.
“A gun,” the student continued, “has traumatized my friends. My entire school, traumatized from this tragedy. This could have been prevented.”
Another student, Carly Novell, echoed her classmate’s anger and grief: “I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours. It was about guns. You weren’t there, you don’t know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns.”
Above the familiar white noise that follows every school shooting, the teenagers’ voices rose with a brutal honesty that people many times their age have proven not to possess, or perhaps more accurately, that they traded in for their next election.
The students were unequivocal: They are done.
Done with the adults who run this country putting politics over people.
Done with adults who claim children are invaluable — though clearly not as invaluable as pockets filled with NRA blood money.
Done with the tired “politicizing the tragedy” trope trotted out after every mass shooting. It is a convenient, intellectually bankrupt response.
When a bridge collapses and kills people, is it politicizing the tragedy to immediately bring up concerns about bridge safety?
When Amtrak has four fatal crashes in two months, is it politicizing the tragedy to talk about ways to reduce deadly train accidents?
When kids suddenly start poisoning themselves with Tide pods … Oh, never mind, legislators were all over that one after about 100 people called poison control.
Consider that for a moment: the moral outrage legislators mustered to introduce bills to keep children safe from detergent while doing next to nothing to keep safe the more than 150,000 students who experienced campus shootings since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
Following the Florida shooting, Sen. Marco Rubio repeated what he said after the Pulse nightclub massacre that left 49 people dead, the worst mass shooting in modern history by a single gunman until 14 months later, when 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured by a gunman firing on a country-music festival in Las Vegas.
“I’m trying to be clear and honest here, if someone’s decided I’m going to commit this crime, they will find a way to get the gun to do it,” said Rubio, who received millions of dollars in political help from the National Rifle Association. Translation: No gun-law reform. Not now. Not ever.
It will be interesting to see what this generation will do with what we allowed to happen in their childhood when they become adults. I have some hope they will make a difference that my generation chose not to.
— Angela York Crane (@toocanAnj) February 15, 2018
Actually, Senator, the Florida teenagers who survived the rampage are the ones being clear and honest here. They might be our only hope for change while the adults who run this country get more and more comfortable with the deaths of kids.
In his comments after the shooting, President Trump spoke directly to “America’s children.”
“I want you to know that you are never alone, and you never will be,” he said in televised remarks from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room. “You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you.”
Except actually do anything about the guns being used to kill them, and that includes shutting down gun-violence research.
It might take a few years. Some of these teenagers can’t even vote yet. But I hope the students speaking so bravely in the face of complicity and complacency and utter cowardice consider a future in politics, or advocacy, or any line of work that will truly protect the next generation.
"We are not to be bought by the NRA … we are the ones who deserve to be kept safe because we were literally shot at" Children of Parkland shooting vow to take up the fight to end school shootings https://t.co/rndKNzp6W1
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) February 16, 2018
Already, I would vote for any of these kids over the spineless politicians we have now. I would definitely support Emma Gonzalez, who told CNN’s Anderson Cooper she was ready to do what was needed to stop the shootings.
“We’re the people who are going to be making the laws one day,” Gonzalez said.
You hear that, Washington? They’re coming for you.