OPINION: #StudentsStandUp for Gun Control

Phoebe Monsour

This piece was submitted by Emma Presnell (9, J&C).

In the future, people will look back at 2018 as the year the students of Stoneman Douglas made history for more reasons then I can name. It’s the year 2018, and high school students have taken a stand against a problem that has existed in our country that government officials have failed to make a change about. On February 21, 2018, I watched the students of a high school put aside their sorrow and take a stand against the violent act that struck their school the prior week.

I’m a 15 year old student in Louisville, Kentucky and have never had to personally hide from a gunman roaming the halls. I’ve been lucky to not be at a school during a tragedy, such as the one at Stoneman Douglas High School, but I’m not guaranteed safety.

As long as people are able to obtain these weapons, no one, not a single person, is safe from an incident like the various ones we have seen happen across the country over 24 times. If there’s no action taken, what stops a person from walking in and shooting dozens of innocent lives? What’s stopping the blood from spilling?

I can say in full honesty that a couple of years ago, I would’ve felt useless and done nothing. I would’ve sat in awe knowing that there are students my age who have the power to rise against what has happened to make change.

It’s the 21st century. I have dreams of becoming a journalist and speaking out about things that need to change, and I’m starting now. I don’t just have to sit here, listening to politicians deflect questions and speak of something that might not happen for a long time. I have a voice. You reading this? You’ve got a voice.

Everyone has the power to change for the better, so why don’t we?

If survivors of a tragedy such as this can power through the fear, the grief and the horror that they felt to speak their mind, we can do more than just send our thoughts and prayers. We can take action. Who says we have to sit here and let the numbers increase while we let only a handful take the lead? Where is our generation when other events like these occur? Why aren’t we supporting the students of Stoneman Douglas in anyway possible? While we can’t all go to D.C. and march, we can speak out locally and call out those who fail to act, to make change.

There were 17 people killed; 17 too many. We can’t let them die for nothing. We have to take the lives lost and let it mark a movement of change. Let this be a moment for the youth to learn, listen and take charge. So what if we’re younger than 18? This is our future we’re shaping. If we want change, it’s not going to happen if all we do is sit and pray for it. Change happens when we take a stand and rise up.

We need leaders on all levels. We need people like Emma Gonzalez, like all of the students on that stage who are openly questioning the people we voted to represent us, questioning the laws they are making or voting on.

This is a statement for all of those who don’t feel they have power. If you’re sitting there, just as I used to, feeling powerless, I encourage you to take a stand and rise up. It doesn’t have to be a nationwide movement. It can be something small like a letter to your senator, or voting to elect people who will bring change. Your voice is still being heard, even if you feel it isn’t. If we say nothing, if we take no action, we’ll leave a deeper mark than if even the smallest efforts were given.

You aren’t nothing and you aren’t useless. We all have the power to make a difference, we just have to be willing to take that step of faith to do so. Social media has the power to connect us on a worldwide scale, and if we can start change, we won’t need to have another movement. We are the generation who has the power to make change happen. Let us be the people who end gun violence. Let’s start right now.

Students of Stoneman Douglas, I thank you.

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