February 14, 2022 marked the 4th anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that resulted in the deaths of 17 students and faculty members.
Four years ago, the tragedy reignited the heated debate surrounding gun control and spurred a movement called March for our Lives led by the survivors of the Parkland shooting.
Today, Parkland students and parents continue to advocate for increased gun safety and grow increasingly frustrated with unfulfilled promises from political leaders. This especially includes the Biden administration that gained campaign support with a pledge to take decisive gun control action at the federal level but has yet to do so after almost two years in office.
The People Affected In Parkland Shooting
David Hogg, a Parkland survivor and board member at March for our Lives, expressed his exasperation with those in power. “Just days after the shooting, I was on CNN and I said ‘we’re the kids, you’re the adults & you need to do something.’ Now it’s four years later and I’m an adult. We need to do something,” Hogg said via Twitter.
“The politicians who used the Parkland shooting for political points have done nothing to make your kids safer,” said Cameron Kasky, another survivor and advocate via Twitter, before sarcastically adding, “That’s politics, baby!”
Manuel Oliver, father of Parkland victim Joaquin Oliver, climbed a 120-ft construction tower to hang a large sign urging the Biden administration to take action against gun violence.
Fred Guttenburg, father of victim Jaime Guttenburg, posted a moving essay on Twitter focusing on the potential of Jaime’s life, and all the “What ifs?” that torture him everyday without her.
The students and families associated with the shooting continue to experience trauma on a daily basis. However, the rest of America, according to many gun control advocates, has become desensitized to gun violence and lost interest in the explosive movement which ruled 2018.
“Shock Market” Launch
To remind Americans of the horror that gun violence inflicts upon our nation every day, March for our Lives, along with groups such as Change the Ref and Guns Down America, have launched a “Shock Market” on this year’s anniversary of the massacre.
The Shock Market works to bring the issue back to the front of Americans’ minds by keeping track of various gun statistics and updating the site daily. The figures displayed on the website help to make the startling numbers more tangible and impactful to viewers.
The site also tracks overall gun violence statistics since the beginning of Biden’s administration, and explicitly outlines things that are necessary to help address the problem.
These demands include establishing a National Office of Gun Violence Prevention, investing in community violence intervention programs, holding the gun industry accountable, and taking executive action.
On the anniversary of the Parkland shooting on Monday, February 14th, the index recorded 100 gun-related deaths (including 3 minors), one mass shooting, and two accidental shootings.
How Do Leesville Students Feel?
At Leesville, students are hyper aware of the horror of gun violence, and grow increasingly wary with every new reporting of school shootings.
Zach Theall, a senior at Leesville, remembers when the Parkland shooting happened in 2018. “We were watching WRAL at night and I heard the news,” he said. “They had one of the victims’ families on and they were crying.”
However, “It just falls into the backdrop of other shootings sometimes,” Theall said, pointing out that the constant influx of new tragedy can be emotionally exhausting for anyone, even those that care deeply about gun violence prevention.
Another reason that students may begin to become desensitized to news of gun violence is hopelessness due to a lack of confidence in political representation, similar to the frustration voiced by Parkland survivors.
“I think that especially nowadays, youth are not taken seriously the way that they should be,” said Ziah Ascalon, another senior at Leesville.
“Legislators really are not doing what they can in their entirety to help us.” Ascalon argues that the U.S. political system contributes to the lack of advocacy for young people who feel strongly about gun violence. “It’s just how the system is built and how it has evolved over the years,” she said. “In a political atmospheres, it’s really hard to get a good, solid agreement on things.”
Although Leesville students and their peers are skeptical about our representation in the government, they are optimistic about our generation’s advocacy and future progress.
“We need to advocate for a mutual understanding of every aspect of this discussion,” said Theall. “It all comes down to educating people about firearms and to help people handle firearms correctly.”
“I definitely think that we can [create change] and we will,” said Ascalon.
Hi! My name is Stella Davis and I am a staff writer for The Mycenaean. I play on the varsity softball team at Leesville, and I coach middle school basketball.