The activist survivors of the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have become the most admired teens in the country in less than two weeks due to their intelligence, their commitment, and their ubiquitous media presence, all in service of publicizing their refusal to stop fighting for actual change in the gun control policies in this nation.
The remarkable rise of the students as a force for social change is unprecedented in its rapidity and extent during such a short period of time. One measure of just how viral the students’ message has become can be seen by looking at the growth of the social media following of these previously unknown teens in the eleven days since the shootings took place.
For instance, take Emma González, the 18-year-old senior at the school with a distinctive shaved head who gained worldwide attention for her fiery speech demanding stricter gun regulations while leading the crowd in a chant of “No more B.S.”
Her speech and her subsequent appearances on TV as part of the contingent of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors who traveled to the Florida state capitol in Tallahassee to press legislators for action on gun control made her one of the most recognizable and admired faces in the country and led to her being interviewed about her advocacy on major news networks like CNN as well as by Ellen DeGeneres on her afternoon talk show.
González has been an active presence on social media, taking on the NRA and its morally bankrupt advocacy of gun rights over personal safety in a pointed question posed to NRA shill Dana Loesch at CNN’s town hall broadcast earlier this week.
“Dana Loesch, I want you to know that we will support your two children in the way that you will not. The shooter at our school obtained weapons that he used on us legally. Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic and…the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic like bump stocks?,” González asked the NRA spokeswoman.
Loesch dodged the question by responding that the mentally ill should not have access to weapons, but González refused to let her wriggle out of answering what she had been asked, interjecting to Loesch:
“I think I’m gonna interrupt you real quick and remind you that the question is actually, do you believe it should be harder to obtain these semi-automatic weapons and modifications to make them fully automatic, such as bump stocks?”
González got a small, but meaningful, measure of victory over Loesch and the NRA this weekend when her Twitter following grew to outnumber both those of the NRA and Loesch herself as pointed out by one of her admiring followers in a tweet.
Today, she gained more followers than @DLoesch.
All in less than two weeks.
Change is coming. pic.twitter.com/Jo9TnoTjDQ
— Brynna Quillin (@brynnaquillin) February 25, 2018
This is a development that gives hope to those of us who value people’s lives more than the ability to access military hardware and more than the maintenance of a paranoid world vision that believes that owning semi-automatic weapons will somehow prevent the tyranny of an imagined future nuclear-armed, repressive government.
For once, the voices of sanity are prevailing, at least in the court of public opinion, if not yet within the legislatures. The hope that change is indeed coming is kept alive by the attention the world is paying to the brave students like Emma González who have vowed to keep fighting for sensible gun regulations because #NeverAgain.