By Donny T. West
It’s no secret. There’s a conversation about gun violence going on right now that many are taking part in. We’ve had this talk before, only for it to go away until the next shooting. But this time, it’s different.
Students are getting active in politics on a scale not seen since the 60s. Social media has brought awareness to the issues, and many have become involved as a result of their support or opposition to President Trump. And when the latest mass shooting happened at Parkland Stoneman Douglas High School, the survivors were the ones leading the discussion. And they aren’t the only ones.
All over the country, students have engaged in protest over America’s gun policies, which they believe fail to protect them.
High school students have walked out of class to protest, even when threatened with punishment, on Saturday, March 24, marches were organized all over the country. The Santa Rosa March For Our Lives in Gulf Breeze was entirely student organized, with PSC student Taylor Smith as the lead organizer.
“I felt drawn to lead the March for Our Lives because gun control is an important issue,” said Smith.
“I want my younger sisters, who are 16 and seven, to be safe at school. I’m concerned for the safety of students, and do everything in my power- as an activist and a voter- to prevent horrific tragedies like Parkland and Sandy Hook from happening again.”
Before the event, multiple speakers spoke their peace on the issue, among them Taylor Smith, the Gulf Breeze High School students involved in planning the event, community activists, the chair of the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action, and Congressional Democratic candidate for District One, Phil Ehr.
“This is an absolutely successful event,” said Ehr. “How many times do you see in Gulf Breeze and very Conservative Santa Rosa County, people coming out to voice their opinions on an issue that matters to people?”
In terms of policy, Ehr pledges to tackle the issue of gun violence from the beginning of his term, if elect.
“We need to turn back on federal research so we can understand this as a public health issue and make good decisions. Also, we need to suspend sales of massive assault weapons such as the AR-15 until such time as the data and research shows an acceptable level of risk,” said Ehr.
“Universal background checks, and yes indeed more funding and resources to mental health in this nexus with gun obsession. Violence and gun obsession is an indicator of the problem, and needs to be addressed with more addition. Those things should be happening before I’m in office, but what I can do is use my authority to get the community talking about the issues. So I would expect to inspire community leaders whether they’re in office or not yet in office to come together to talk about gun violence in a very deliberate manner.”
In addition, Ehr expressed disagreement with his opponent Matt Gaetz’ support for arming teachers, for the purpose of safety and cost effectiveness.
No matter what happens, this is a movement on both sides history can say the youth were at the forefront of.