On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 students and staff members died in a mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. In the ensuing weeks, the Parkland students emerged as powerful advocates for gun control, urging lawmakers to work on curbing gun violence once and for all. Their efforts continue a year later, and returning to the
videos of these Parkland survivors' speeches may just give you the inspiration you need to keep up the fight.
After the Parkland shooting, the
issue of addressing school safety took on even more urgency. In solidarity with the survivors, thousands of students across America walked out of their classrooms in protest and called on state and federal lawmakers to take a stronger stance on gun control reform. In 2018, more than 800 sibling rallies took place for the March for Our Lives rally for gun control.
Parkland survivors' efforts to push for gun control has also received global recognition. In November, they were awarded with the International Children's Peace Prize. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who presented the award to them, said, "I am in awe of these children whose powerful message is amplified by their youthful energy and an unshakable belief that children can — no, must — improve their own futures." 1 Emma Gonzalez
Just days after the shooting, Parkland student
Emma Gonzalez fiercely condemned legislators for failing to take gun violence seriously in an impassioned speech.
"They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS," Gonzalez said. "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."
2 Alfonso Calderon
Another Parkland student,
Alfonso Calderon, also delivered an emotional speech on gun violence at a press conference just days after the shooting.
"Just because we are kids we are not allowed to understand but, trust me, I understand," Calderon said. "I was in a closet, locked for four hours with people who I would consider almost family crying and weeping on me begging for their lives ... I understand what it’s like to fear for your life."
3 David Hogg
Parkland survivors and other student activists around the country got together to organize the March for Our Lives rally on Capitol Hill in March 2018. One of the
Parkland students and activists, David Hogg, delivered another rousing speech at the march.
"When politicians say that your voice doesn’t matter because the NRA owns them, we say: No more. When politicians send their thoughts and prayers with no action, we say: No more," Hogg said. "And to those politicians supported by the NRA that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say: Get your resumes ready."
4 Cameron Kasky
Cameron Kasky, another Parkland survivor and gun control activist, also gave a moving speech at the March for Our Lives rally last year:
My generation — having spent our entire lives seeing mass shooting after mass shooting — has learned that our voices are powerful and our votes matter. We must educate ourselves and start conversations that keep our country moving forward and we will. 5 Samantha Fuentes
Another Parkland survivor who spoke at March for Our Lives was Samantha Fuentes. "Lawmakers and politicians will scream guns are not the issue," Fuentes said before she felt ill.
Undeterred, she continued, "I just threw up on international television, and it feels great!" 6 Jaclyn Corin Parkland survivor Jaclyn Corin also gave a speech at the rally last year that highlighted how gun violence affected marginalized communities: We recognize that Parkland received more attention because of its affluence. But we share this stage today and forever with those communities who have always stared down the barrel of a gun. 7 Ryan Deitsch
Another Parkland survivor, Ryan Deitsch, urged Capitol Hill to invest in teachers for a safer America in his speech at the march. "We cannot make America safe again until we arm our teachers," Deitsch said. "We need to arm our teachers. We need to arm them with pencils, pens, paper, and the money they need."
Since the Parkland shooting,
at least 1,200 children have lost their lives to gun violence, according to a joint study carried out by McClatchy News, The Trace, and Miami Herald.
Although pressure from these gun control activists have led to several states adopting stronger
laws on firearm sales and background checks, Parkland survivors are continuing to push for more common sense gun control legislation across the country.
"These kids are still out there," President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Kris Brown told, "and they have made change." USA Today