Naples Daily News
#NeverAgain: ‘This generation … The next generation will never have to worry about this.’
Patrick Riley February 18, 2018
A press conference was held Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, at the Florida Capitol Senate building in Tallahassee as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students advocate for stricter gun control and mental health laws.
Nicole Raucheisen/Naples Daily News)
PARKLAND – A contingent of 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of one of the deadliest school shootings in modern American history Wednesday, will travel to the state capital to speak with lawmakers about enacting stricter gun laws.
“Our coping mechanism is dealing with it in a political aspect,” said Jaclyn Corin, a junior at the high school who organized the trip.
“I know that a lot of us in the school have different coping mechanisms, and it’s good that we do because we need a wide variety of comfort and mourning, but also political action.”
The students will pack into buses Tuesday and make the nearly 450-mile trek from Parkland to Tallahassee, where they will split up into groups of 10 to talk to 10 state senators and representatives from both parties Wednesday. The journey comes less than a week after a gunman killed 17 people at the school.
“The action has been so quick,” said Corin, 17. “And that’s necessary because this is a fresh and open wound and we can’t let it close up. We need to do something about it before it just disappears like it always has.”
Corin, who was hiding in a classroom during the shooting, said a family friend connected her with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose aide helped her start organizing the trip.
A handful of other Democratic politicians, including state Sens. Lauren Book and Kevin Rader and state Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Jared Moskowitz, also helped, she said.
“I knew that I wanted to change something,” Corin said. “I’m the type of person, when something bad happens to me, I can’t just sit back and cry and go in a ball. I like to speak out and I like to act and distract myself from pain.”
Because the Legislature is in the middle of a session, the group can’t introduce new bills but will instead focus on pre-existing ones “that haven’t gotten the time and consideration that they deserve” regarding assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and mental health screenings, Corin said.
Included on the students’ list of top priorities is a ban on military-style assault weapons, like the AR-15 used in the shooting. That rifle and other assault weapons were banned in 1994 by President Bill Clinton as part of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, but that ban expired in 2004.
Hundreds gather for gun control rally after Parkland shooting
A woman yells in response to a speech during a gun control rally in front of the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Students, community members, elected officials and gun control advocates gathered together to call for common sense gun laws and firearm safety legislation in the wake of the school shooting that left 17 people dead and 15 others injured this past Wednesday in Parkland, Fla. Nicole Raucheisen/Naples Daily News
The gun has been the “weapon of choice” in shootings from San Bernardino to Las Vegas and Newtown, Corin said.
“The AR-15 was what caused all of this,” she said. “We need that out. I don’t know how people haven’t realized that yet, because it’s a continuing pattern.”
Corin emphasized that the group’s pitch is to elected officials on both sides of the aisle.
“It’s just about kids’ lives,” she said. “Looking into their eyes and telling our stories, we just hope is going to make a huge difference.”
Corin and many of her fellow classmates have garnered national attention for their outspokenness on the issues of gun control in the days since the massacre.
Some of their most vocal leaders, like Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky and David Hogg, have appeared on national and international news outlets and have had celebrities reach out to them on social media.
Emma González, 18, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at North Community Park on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. González became a viral sensation after videos of her impassioned speech at an anti-gun rally Saturday in Fort Lauderdale flooded social media. Now, she is helping to lead the #NeverAgain movement with her fellow classmates. “It’s funny. I didn’t even have a Twitter account before two hours ago and it was trending on Twitter all day yesterday,” González said. “I have become somewhat of a spokesperson for this, but we’re all saying the same thing. That’s why we teamed up together like this because we know each other, we love each other very much and we all agree on the same stuff. We’re happy that all of us are still alive and we’re gonna make sure it stays that way for the people in our neighboring communities. For our neighbors, our cousins, this generation, not the next generation because the next generation will never have to worry about this because of us.” (Photo: Nicole Raucheisen/Naples Daily News)
“Maybe it’s because we’re old enough to talk about it,” said Gonzalez, a senior at the school, when asked why the students’ advocacy for change has been so visible.
“They sent us to school to get a thorough education and they act shocked that we’re educated.”
Corin said the pervasiveness of social media has also helped spread the group’s message of “Never Again.”
Emma Gonzalez, 18, center, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is surrounded by her friends as she answers a social media message from actress and singer Zendaya at North Community Park on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. Gonzalez became a viral sensation after videos of her impassioned speech at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale flooded social media. Now, she is helping to lead the #NeverAgain movement with her fellow classmates. (Photo: Nicole Raucheisen/Naples Daily News)
“The fact that this can all be spread and our want for change can be spread in the click of a button is just so helpful,” she said. “And we’re going to use that to our advantage.”
The trip to Tallahassee comes on the heels of a gun control rally Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, where students pleaded for stricter gun laws and blasted officials who have taken political donations from the National Rifle Association. The students are currently planning a “March For Our Lives” in Washington, D.C., on March 24 to demand legislative action by Congress to address gun violence.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to host students and teachers from the school for a listening session Wednesday, although it is unclear which students will be invited to the session.
“This is just our opportunity,” said Gonzalez, 18, a senior at the school, referring to the Tallahassee trip. “This is the time to do this.”
The tight-knit group of students is poised to make sure those who come after them won’t have to suffer the way they did, she said.
“This generation,” Gonzalez said. “Not the next generation. Because the next generation will never have to worry about this.”