After Parkland, a new generation uses its voice against guns

After Parkland, a new generation uses its voice against guns

The first time it happened, we blamed the students. It was their generation’s fault, we the grown-ups told them — all that bullying, and goth culture, and nasty music with impolite lyrics. (The fact that most of that turned out not to have spurred the Columbine shooters never really changed the narrative.)

This time, in what might evolve into a new strategic direction for the gun control fight in the U.S., the students are blaming us.“

Please … we’re children. You guys are the adults,” said 17-year-old David Hogg, a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, that left 17 dead, 15 more hospitalized, and a former student in custody. “My message to lawmakers and Congress is: Please take action,” he told CNN.

The distance between Columbine and Parkland is more than 2,040 miles, nearly 19 years, and a chasm of technology. There was no Twitter back then, no texting, no Facebook Live. There was also no feeling of numbing familiarity either, of having seen this 25 times before, which is the number of fatal school shootings between the two.

So while both massacres happened at high schools, to victims not yet old enough to vote, the thousands of students who survived the carnage emerged into different political worlds and seem to be taking on different advocacy roles. After Columbine, the talk among students was about prayer and healing and kindness. After Parkland, it is about anger and frustration — and gun control.

Hogg, a student journalist, used the hour he spent hiding in a classroom to interview many of the 40 students who were crouched there with him. And they wanted to talk about guns. They did so thinking this might be their last message out. “I figured, if I died, at least this [the recording] would be passed on to other people, so these voices would echo on,” Hogg told the BBC when it was over.

“I personally have rallied for gun rights,” one young woman told him, then added, “This experience has definitely changed my viewpoint.” She said she’d planned to spend her 18th birthday at a gun range, but “at this point I don’t want to be behind a gun, I don’t want to be behind a bullet, because I don’t want to be the person to point a bullet at someone. To have the bullet pointed at me, my school, my classmates, my mentors, it’s definitely eye-opening to the fact that we need more gun control in our country.” READ MORE