I’m dating myself here, but when I was in high school I got into a lot of trouble with my parents for skipping school to hand out ant-Vietnam war fliers at a subway station in the Bronx as part of the large national anti-war moratorium demonstration. Over the ensuing years, I’ve never seen a cause that inspired such a committed level of participation by teen activists since then… until now.
With the fear of being shot as another victim of the epidemic of mass shootings in this country replacing the fear of being drafted and shipped off to SouthEast Asia to kill or be killed as the motivating factor, high school students are flexing their political muscles more than they have in nearly 50 years.
Inspired by the slaughter of their 17 classmates and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students in Parkland, Florida began their movement to force action from Congress on meaningful gun legislation that follow the ABC’s: “A” representing an assault weapons ban, “B” for implementing universal background checks for gun purchases ,and “C” meaning closing gun show loopholes.
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The movement has now spread beyond the students who were immediately affected by the mass shooting in their school to all the students who rightly realize that without changes to our legislation and our society, they too could be tomorrow’s victims.
A group of students from the Washington DC area felt strongly enough about joining the fight for stricter gun regulations that they organized a President’s day protest at the White House, staging a “lie-in” on the street outside the Presidential mansion. The students were members of Teens For Gun Reform, a newly-established organization created in the wake of the Parkland massacre.
The protest took the form of students taking turns laying on the pavement for three minutes at a time, their prone bodies symbolizing the shooting victims and the length of time demonstrating how quickly the entire shooting took place.
The student organization posted this rationale for their protest on their Facebook page:
“By doing this, we will make a statement on the atrocities which have been committed due to the lack of gun control, and send a powerful message to our government that they must take action now.”
In addition to the symbolic “lie-in,” students carried signs urging the passage of gun control legislation and chanted slogans like “Shame on you,” “Disarm hate,” “No more deaths,” “Am I next?” and “Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids have you killed today?” while facing the White House.
With President Trump visiting Mar-a-Lago again the White House was empty of a presidential presence, but that’s true even when Trump is in town. Nevertheless, the media was there to cover the protests and spread the teens’ message to a national audience.
You can watch a video of the protest captured by NBC News below.
WATCH: Teens hold "lie-in" protest for gun reform outside of the White House in the wake of Florida school shooting pic.twitter.com/npUwDwn5VD
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 19, 2018
It’s amazing and wonderful that these committed high school students are transforming a national tragedy into productive action. Let’s hope that this time their fervor will make the difference between letting the lessons of a mass shooting fail to generate changes in our gun laws as typically happens once the headlines fade away and actually forcing Congress to refuse those NRA donations and pass real solutions to the scourge of gun violence.