GoC #2: History Will Bend

From 1999’s Columbine shooting to Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s 2018 shooting, there have been 143 lives lost. Over 200,000 students have experienced gun violence in school. There was a turning point in United States history when school went from a safe haven to a burial ground. The questions that were on my mind the whole time I was reading Parkland by Dave Cullen was, “why haven’t we hardened gun laws?, what more do we have to lose in order for our government to do something?, and when will I know that I’m not next? ” 

Mass shooting statistics from 1999-2018
Statistics on school shootings

It truly leaves me dumbfounded that it took another 17 lives in Parkland, Florida for a movement to soar. What started out as a small group meeting in Cameron Kasky’s living room turned into a nationwide operation called March For Our Lives

March For Our Lives leaders

My mashboard is an illustration of protest signs with outstanding quotes from the book, outside sources, and core texts. Throughout this blog post, I will explain each quote that is pasted on the protest signs. Both you, as a reader, and me, as the author, will be able to follow the raw emotions and experiences of Valentine’s Day in 2018. 

“‘I heard the gunshots and I heard the shooter walk down the hallway shooting more kids. I heard a young man, crying for his mother, dying. It was hard because you don’t imagine this happening to you… I thought at the beginning that this was just – it was a drill, just a drill, until I saw my teacher dead on the floor’” (Cullen 19). 

This is how February 14, 2018 unfolded for freshmen at the time Kelsey Friend. Friend uncovered this story in front of the media alongside MFOL leader, activist, and now-former student at MSD, David Hogg. David took the media by storm the day of the shooting to get the word out and to take control of the narrative. 

As current students in high school, we are conditioned to know what to do if there is any sign of danger in the building. We have the idea of “Run, Hide, Fight” engraved in our brains with escape plans for every part of the school. We are being prepared for any type of situation, but the issue is the fact that we have to implement such drastic measures for something that can really happen. Our country has let this epidemic of gun violence go on for so long that we are forced to believe that a school shooting can be our reality. 

Friend’s story reminded me of what Andie Horowitz said in a New York Times article called, “The Trouble with Empathy”. Horowitz writes,  “When you understand the people behind the movement, it becomes so much more personal. That’s where empathy comes into critical thinking and being motivated to learn more” (Andie Horowtiz). 

Reading about not only Kelsey’s story but David Hogg’s, Emma Gonzalez’s, Cameron Kasky’s, and Jackie Corin’s provides a real life account of what happened that day. It goes to show that what they’re saying isn’t made up or exaggerated. It does become more personal because we are going through the exact moments that changed their lives. We are able to see through a perspective that no one else has. It puts us in the room with them and to see things from their level. MFOL wants America to do better for the sake of our country. We can begin to empathize with the survivors of the shooting, and begin to move towards justice with a purpose. 

“‘WE! CALL! B! S!’… “They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS’” (Cullen 53). 

As the book progressed, I came across Emma Gonzalez’s infamous “We Call B.S” speech that went viral minutes after it was posted. She held the world accountable for what they’ve let our country become. Gonzalez is now a former MSD student and a proud activist for gun control. Emma performs this speech at a Fort Lauderdale rally. Her speech can be found here and the transcript here

Emma Gonzalez’s “We Call B.S” speech

Emma starts off by saying, “‘But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see'” (0:40). As a country, we are constantly faced with the same problem over and over again. As Emma says, it is time that we take matters into our own hands. Our country is doing the bare minimum, and it’s helping us make no progress. What’s needed is concrete support and change. The 17 fallen didn’t die in vain, and their deaths will mean something. MFOL and the rest of the country fighting for gun control advocacy will not let their names be swept under the rug, and will speak on behalf of those who can’t.

Emma continues to quote a teacher, and they say, “‘When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun, all I can hear is, ‘My right to own a gun outweighs your student’s right to live.’ All I hear is mine, mine, mine, mine’” (1:43). We’ve been selfish for way too long. Lives are what is in question, and lives are something that once they’re taken away, we can never get back.

Additionally, Delaney Tarr at the march in Washington D.C speaks, “‘Enough!’ she shouted, ‘It’s as if we need permission to ask our friends not to die!’… ‘How will we be safe in our own classrooms in the world we live in now when it’s OK for someone to walk into a store with an expired ID and buy an assault rifle?” (Cullen 203). As students of the 21st century, it’s no longer about a gun owner doing nothing wrong, it’s about how we are trained for a gunman to burst into our classroom any day. We are having to bargain with our lives and beg to live in this day and age. Why can’t our biggest worry be about our grades and not about a gunman?

“They [MFOL] would stagger to some strange bed, wake weary, bleary, a bit confused about where their pillows lie, but certain, absolutely certain, of one thing: that to their cause-to save every kid of every color from the ravages of gun violence-history will bend” (Cullen 311). 

To wrap this up, I’d like to leave you with this last quote. Bobbie Harro says in “Cycle of Socialization“, “It is easiest to do nothing. We don’t know how to take action against a system so powerful and pervasive” (Harro 20). Contrary to Harro’s words, the kids and adults of MFOL and their sibling marches are willing to do whatever it takes

Although this movement began in Florida, it has expanded to everyone in this country. The survivors and their families and friends could’ve done nothing and chose the easier path. Why fight something that won’t change? But they took on this epidemic head-first, ready for any backlash they’d receive. Silence is easy! Gun violence is daunting, but the reward is worth the risk. They chose to be upfront with this cause because there is no other way to go at it. We’ve lost too many to something that could’ve been taken care of decades ago. These victims are refusing victimhood and are choosing justice. Justice for the 17 lives lost in Parkland and the hundreds lost in the U.S. 

I’ll be waiting for the day when websites like http://www.shootingtracker.com/ can stop updating, for organizations like March For Our Lives to disappear, and school becomes the place where we learn and live as kids. The arc of our history and our moral universe will bend towards fairness and towards change. This isn’t about taking away the Second Amendment, it’s about saving the seventy-four million American children. As XXXTentacion sings in his song “HOPE”, “Rest in peace to all the kids that lost their lives in the Parkland shooting”. This one’s for you. 

The 17 lives lost in the Parkland shooting

Click here for the 17 victims’s stories

Parkland by Dave Cullen

Published by Ellie Lim

Hi! I'm Ellie, and I'm a Senior at Glenbrook North High School. Some of my interests include synchronized figure skating, spending time with my friends and family, and being with my dog. For synchro, I compete on behalf of Team USA!

One thought on “GoC #2: History Will Bend

  1. Ellie, I think you did an incredible job on your blog. The language you used was galvanizing and really made me think about this stuff. I also think you did great work tying your book, along with outside research, and class content together.

    Like

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