On Feb. 14, a former student went into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle and multiple magazines and shot and killed 17 people — three teachers and 14 students — and injured countless others. The 19-year-old gunman had legally purchased the firearm — which was the same make as the guns used at Sandy Hook, the Aurora movie theater, and last October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. So, understandably, there are many debates going on in the country about gun control, the second amendment, and where we go from here to protect our nation’s youth.
President Donald Trump, inexplicably, suggested arming teachers and additional school personnel with guns as a possible solution. He later clarified his statement, via incoherent tweets. He wrote, “I never said ‘give teachers guns’ like was stated on Fake News CNN and NBC. [Editor’s note: He did]. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience — only the best. 20 percent of teachers, a lot, would not be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this.” He continued, “For more assets at much less cost than guards. A ‘gun-free’ school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!”
Except, you know, they won’t. Allow CJ Cregg — fictional press secretary/forever our girl crush — to explain; the second season of The West Wing opens with the aftermath of an assassination attempt on the president. President Bartlet exits into open air, and two gunmen fire shots into the crowd — hitting both the president (played brilliantly by Martin Sheen), the deputy chief of staff (Bradley Whitford's Josh Lyman), and a woman in the crowd (later identified as Stephanie Abbott). During one of the many press briefings, our power suit-wearing heroine takes the podium and reminds the journalists that trying to fix this problem — or any countless other incidents of gun violence — with more guns just isn’t the solution. And while the words were written (beautifully) by Aaron Sorkin for a fictional storyline nearly a decade ago, the same can be said about the very state of the country right now.
“This is our fifth press briefing since midnight. Obviously, there’s one story dominating news around the world for the next few days, and it would be easy to think that President Bartlet, Joshua Lyman, and Stephanie Abbott were the only victims of a gun crime last night. They weren’t,” she said. “Mark Davis and Sheila Evans of Philadelphia were killed by a gun last night. He was a biology teacher, and she was a nursing student. Tina Bishop and Linda Larkin were killed with a gun last night. They were 12. There were 36 homicides last night. 480 sexual assaults, 3,411 robberies, 3,685 aggravated assaults, all at gunpoint. And if anyone thinks those crimes could have been prevented if the victims themselves had been carrying guns, I’d only remind you that the President of the United States himself was shot last night while surrounded by the best trained armed guards in the history of the world.”
Just in case you're still discrediting the monologue as fiction, the facts hold up in real life too. In 1981, Ronald Reagan and three others were shot during an assassination attempt while surrounded by secret service — who, we can safely assume, were even more “gun adept” as the president put it, with “special training experience. And on Feb. 14, officer Scot Peterson — an armed cop who was assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — went to the building where the shooting was happening and did “nothing,” failing to even go inside, despite having a weapon that Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said could have been used to “kill the killer.” (Peterson has since resigned.)
In the meantime, the teenage survivors of the shooting are taking action — sans guns — by challenging representatives to change and address the problem (you know, without giving every teacher a weapon). The teens have taken the media by storm, directly addressing the government in hopes of holding them accountable for what happened at their school less than two weeks ago, and have organized March For Our Lives, where they will march in Washington to urge their politicians to prioritize students’ lives over guns.
"They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS!" Florida high school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez calls on President Trump and lawmakers to tighten gun restrictions in impassioned speech at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale https://t.co/DgnqrrVs9x— CNN (@CNN) February 17, 2018
“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks,” Emma Gonzalez, one of the survivors and organizers of March For Our Lives, said in an impassioned speech following the shooting. “Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting.”
To find out how you can give back and get involved with the students’ vision, visit MarchForOurLives.com and to learn more about how you can change the conversation about gun safety and ending gun violence, visit Everytown.org.