When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough. You Need a Revolution.

Stacy Matson | Celebrity Health
When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough. You Need a Revolution.

image by: Mobilus In Mobili

We cannot protect our guns before we protect our children - Florence Yared, Parkland school shooting survivor

What does it take to turn a movement into a revolution? It takes anger, passion, urgency, and a few people with a shared purpose who refuse to be silenced. The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have all of that. Not to mention they’re also young, idyllic, and pissed off. Perfect combination.

The movement I’m referring to, which just might make it to a full on revolution, is #NeverAgain. #NeverAgain was born just after the February 14th shooting at MSD High School where 17 students and faculty members were murdered by a former student using an AR-15 assault rifle. Within days of the shooting a handful of student survivors, grieving and reeling from the trauma, decided that #EnoughisEnough and that as a group, they were going to do everything they could to make sure this never happens on another school campus. Between funerals, they consoled each other and made their plans.

During interviews and press conferences the students used their collective voice to demand legislative changes to existing gun laws in the hopes of preventing future mass shootings. They called out politicians by name and held them responsible for failing to make any changes to gun laws since the shooting at Columbine in 1999, or after an of the 24 school shootings that have occurred since then.

The public listened to them speak, they were outraged, and #NeverAgain’s numbers increased.

As momentum grew, the students were asked to attend gun control rallies and candle light vigils all over the East Coast. They boarded buses and went to Florida’s capital to meet with the President and other lawmakers. But they didn’t show up just for a photo-op, or to be talked down to. Rather, they showed up with a list of demands which included a ban on military grade weapons. They also demanded universal background checks for all gun purchases. And, they demanded an end to campaign contributions from the NRA due to the influence it has over politicians. None of these demands were well received by politicians...

Angered by comments from the NRA, Republican lawmakers, and gun advocates the students reminded anyone who would listen that the shooting at their school was not a freak accident, or an anomaly, but the result of decisions made by a disturbed man and facilitated by current gun laws. This struck a chord with the public and less conservative lawmakers. Suddenly, they weren’t just a bunch of irrational kids. They were passionate individuals who survived an horrific, avoidable event. Soon they had a tidal wave of support and a series of school walkouts and rallies were scheduled all over the United States.

#NeverAgain’s voice got bigger, stronger. And so did their numbers. Again.

Within days, they had thousands of students, parents, politicians, teachers, and celebrities showing up to support them and cheer them on. Which led to the March for Our Lives protest on March 24, 2018 where millions of people all over the world protested and grieved in solidarity.

The students who started the #NeverAgain movement/revolution want only one thing: to be the LAST victims of a school shooting. Ever. Their mission statement reads. “Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.”

What these students are working to achieve is pretty straightforward. And, frankly we owe them, at minimum, is safety at school. So, I’m not sure how anyone can argue against their mission. Yet, there are lots of arguments. The student walkouts, rallies, and protests demanding gun control have triggered serious backlash, not just from those who support the NRA and the Second Amendment, but from those who view their efforts as those of immature, spoiled slackers looking for attention.

The students have been called Communists and traitors, they’ve been threatened, they’ve been talked down to and dismissed because of their age, and they’ve been called liars. Yet they march on. Why? Because they’re fighting in the names of their dead friends and teachers, their fighting for their own lives, and fighting for the future of other humans.

Despite the backlash, the #NeverAgain students are making headway. Their localized activism is creating change on a national level. Massachusetts is currently working on new legislation that would incentivize other states to adopt gun control policies similar to those of Massachusetts, which has one of the lowest rates of gun death in the country. The student’s efforts have resulted in corporations like Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Avis, Enterprise, Hertz, Kroger, First National Bank of Omaha, REI, Walmart, Starkey, just to name a few, cutting ties with the National Rifle Association. But, perhaps the most meaningful change for these students is the Florida Legislature’s recent vote to increase funding for school security and to raise the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21. All of these changes have happened in about 6 weeks. Pretty impressive for a bunch of kids...

Policy makers, lobbyists, and big business should be afraid. These kids are the future. Future consumers, future voters, future politicians, future parents, future constituents, and they will not be dismissed.

That is how you turn a movement into a revolution.

Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of Best.

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