It’s only been 10 days since the February 14 Parkland, Florida school shooting, where 17 high school students were killed by ex-student Nikolas Cruz at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, and already we have a well-oiled evolutionary movement going.
Rather than having parents or politicians wring their hands and shed a tear and attempt for the umpteenth time to ineffectually argue for gun control, the students have taken matters into their own hands and are being far more effective, thus far, than any politician to date.
Social media savvy
What’s different is the students know how to use the new media to rally the public at a speed never witnessed before. As students were hiding in a closet during a lockdown after the shootings had occurred, aspiring student journalist David Hogg had the wit to begin interviewing some of the students about their views and then posted it on Youtube.
He caught the moving comments of a unnamed young woman, whose pro-gun position had been radically altered: “I did have plans for my 18th birthday to go to Nexus Gun Range and learn how to shoot, but at this point, I don’t even want to be behind a gun, I don’t want to be the person behind a bullet, because I don’t want to be the person to point a bullet at someone, and to have the bullet pointed at me, my school, my classmates, my teachers, my mentors.”
Two days after posting devastatingly on Facebook: “I’m safe. . . Thank you to all the second amendment warriors who protected me,” 17-year old Cameron Kasky started the movement with the hashtag #NeverAgain, focusing on stricter gun laws, safer schools and for the NRA to get out of politics. Overnight, this movement gone viral and now has the support of millions of other students across America.
Marching across America
Just one week after the shootings, hundreds of the Parkland students and their supporters marched on the Florida State legislation and met with the State’s legislators, and students throughout Florida staged classroom walk-outs to advocate for better gun control.
Wiping away her tears, Emma Gonzalez, gave an extraordinary, impassioned speech, crying "Shame on you!" to President Donald Trump and all other politicians who accept money from the NRA.
The students have planned a town-hall meeting with Sen Marco Rubio, who himself has taken more than $176,000 from the National Rifle Association. "That’s how much @marcorubio was paid for each child’s life," wrote one.
They have a website and have organized a national March for Our Lives on March 24, with simultaneous marches in New York, Los Angeles and Boston and dozens of other cities, and have raised millions already with Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Spielberg, the Clooney’s and other celebrities donating $500,000 apiece.
Gun-owners joining in
And for the first time, they have inspired gun owners to join in. There was Scott Pappalardo, long-time gun owner with tattoo that reads ‘the right to keep and bear arms,’ staring right into the camera of his own Youtube video and announcing, ‘I’m going to make sure this weapon will never be able to take a life,’ before he turns around and saws off the barrel of his own AR-15, the semi-automatic rifle used by Cruz on the students. Pappalardo’s video has been viewed more than 26 million times and counting, spawning its own copycat movement #OneLess and #OneLessgun with an avalanche of likeminded gun owners sawing their own guns into pieces. ‘This is my ex-boomstick after I had at it with a grinder saw,’ posted one woman.
We had the radiologist in the trauma center where the Parkland students were taken, who wrote in the Atlantic about the untoward destruction of an AR-15.
As he described, if you get shot by an ordinary gun, unless it’s directly to the heart or brain, you’re likely to survive. If you get shot by an AR-15, any organ hit is like “an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding” and virtually no chance of survival.
New jobs for the boys?
After the Florida shooting, Sen Rubio warned the public not to ‘jump to conclusions that there’s some law we could have passed that could have prevented it,’ and House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that ‘mental health is often a big problem underlying these tragedies.’ And last Tuesday, the Florida state legislature voted against consideration of a ban on AR-15 style rifles, by 71 to 36.
But these now sound like voices in the wilderness.
Those young people will be 18 and voting age next year. This generation is even larger than the Baby Boomers and they know how to set up a movement more quickly than even the most effective politician will ever be able to, no matter how much money he’s getting from monoliths like the NRA.
These young people also know how to galvanize people in a way that nothing – the Sandy Hook shootings, the shedding of tears by former President Barack Obama, the NRA rallies – ever could.
This is the generation that is going to take a wrecking ball to everything that is wrong with our world at the moment. If I were all those legislators, I’d be thinking hard about a new job.