They are angry. They are channeling their pain and stepping into the harsh spotlight of a heated and ongoing national debate. They are shielding their peers who feel too devastated to do the same.
They are the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting that left 17 dead and more than a dozen others injured — and the founders of a movement they’re calling: “Never Again.”
“We are going to be the kids that you read about in textbooks — not because we are going to be another statistic about mass shootings in America, but because we are going to be last mass shooting,” 18-year-old senior Emma Gonzalez said during a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday. She said she wrote her speech on the back of her notes from her Advanced Placement government class.
Hundreds of people stood in the covered courtyard of the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale demanding specific policy changes following the nation’s deadliest high school shooting: A ban on assault weapons. Stricter background checks and an age requirement for gun purchases. Laws that keep guns away from mentally ill people who want to use them to kill.
The message local teenagers sent to the adults in charge was raw and cutting. They held signs that said: “My friends died for what?” and “Money killed my friends.” At one point they stood in a group and chanted: “You are responsible.”
On Sunday morning, the student leaders made an announcement to a captive nation: They will lead a “March for Our Lives” in Washington, D.C., on March 24, and they invited communities across the country to hold simultaneous protests calling for an end to mass school shootings.