On March 14, thousands of students across the nation walked out of school for seventeen minutes to mourn for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and protest gun violence in schools. In response to this, FOX News anchor Tucker Carlson made the statement, “If they’re too young to buy guns, why should they be making my gun laws?” So, why should students have a hand in gun policy? Because we’re the collateral.
As of the end of March, twelve school shootings have occured; twenty-seven have died, and forty-four were injured. This is just in 2018. Since 2000, one hundred fifty-eight people have died in school shootings. One hundred fifty-eight lives that were ripped away, because America lacked the proper gun regulations to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of irresponsible gun owners.
Many of the students protesting are too young to vote and buy guns. However, this does not discredit their opinions. Many students who have been active in advocating for gun reform are only months away from being old enough to vote. In December, 400,000 students will be old enough to vote in the election. Thousands have promised to vote out politicians who are not fighting for more effective gun control.
Most importantly, students are being directly threatened by lax gun control. Instead of going to school and learning valuable skills for their future, students are learning how to act in the event of an active shooter on campus. Innocent lives are at stake; shouldn’t they have a say in whether they survive a day at school?
Since the shooting in Parkland, Florida, the #neveragain movement and demand for gun reform has gained incredible traction and momentum. This movement has inspired students to stand up and actively speak their minds against politicians who sit idly by, and to denounce the National Rifle association. American students refuse to stand silently by any longer, and are pushing for gun reform. However, as students become more open and articulate, backlash and criticism such as Carlson’s only grows more aggressive.
FOX News anchor Jesse Waters brought on pop artist Kaya Jones, who claimed that liberals were using David Hogg, an active student leader against assault rifles, to push their political agenda.
Right-wing politician Leslie Gibson made a Twitter post calling Emma Gonzalez, a Parkland survivor, a “skinhead lesbian.”
Another FOX News anchor, Laura Ingraham, posted a Tweet stating, “David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA…totally predictable given acceptance rates).”
Schools are punishing students for walking out. Punishments have ranged from detentions to paddling. Some schools have physically locked their students in.
A Texas student described how men in trucks drove around her and her friends as they walked out, honking and playing loud music in an attempt to scare them into returning to class. All of the trucks has proudly flown Confederate flags.
A common straw-man argument that is brought up repeatedly on FOX News about the gun reform movement is that students want to take all guns away. This is not true. While the message varies, the general agreement is that guns need to stay out of the hands of dangerous individuals and irresponsible gun owners. Solutions include getting rid of semi-automatic weapons, requiring a license to own a gun, and more thorough background checks. The gun reform movement is not an attack on the Second Amendment. It is the demand that we keep guns away from individuals who will use them to cause harm to others.
The motives behind the gun reform movement have been twisted; students activists have been slandered; students have been intimidated and threatened.
This negativity will continue to be thrown at students who are fighting for the right to go to school safely. However, despite this, we must stand strong. Together, we can make a difference. We have the right for our voices to be heard, and we will not let anyone tell us to be silent or intimidate us. Why should we make gun laws? Well, Tucker, because we’re strong, and we deserve to live our lives peacefully, without fear.
by Paris Shewfelt