Emma Gonzalez is not budging in her fight against gun violence.
Gonzalez, 18, has become one of America’s most prominent advocates for gun control since a shooter opened fire in her high school in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day, killing 17 people. This Friday, a day before the scheduled March for Our Lives protest for stronger gun laws, Gonzalez published a powerful essay at Teen Vogue laying out what needs to happen for U.S. gun violence to end.
“Any way you cut it, one of the biggest threats to life as a teen in the U.S. today is being shot,” Gonzalez wrote. “People have been shot to death en masse in grocery stores, movie theaters, nightclubs, and libraries, on school campuses and front porches, and at concerts ― anywhere and everywhere, regardless of socioeconomic background, skin color, age, ethnicity, religion, gender, geographical location.”
Gonzalez is right. Guns are the third leading cause of child deaths in the U.S., according to a June 2017 analysis published in Pediatrics, a medical journal. Every day, an average of 19 children are treated in emergency rooms or die from gunshot wounds around the country. Gun violence affects boys more heavily than girls, teens more heavily than younger children, and black children more heavily than children of any other race.
In her essay for Teen Vogue, Gonzalez notes that school shootings have happened regularly all her life ― the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999 was only a few months before she was born. Cameron Kasky, another Parkland survivor turned student activist, recently described himself and his fellow teens as “the mass shooting generation.”
“After all of this pain and all of this death caused by gun violence, it seems as if the kids are the only ones who still have the energy to make this change,” Gonzalez wrote. “Fed up with the apathy pervading this country, we realized that we don’t need to wait around to have our voices heard or for someone else to make a change — we have to be the change we need to see.”
Gonzalez broke down what needs to happen if our country is to combat gun violence: More companies need to cut ties with the National Rifle Association, gun sale records need to be digitized to make them more accessible, universal background checks need to be implemented, and high-capacity magazines need to be outlawed.
“This doesn’t make any rational or logical sense,” Gonzalez wrote. “How would arming teachers work, logistically?”
She went on:
Would they have to buy their own guns, or would there be armories in schools? Would students be able to break into armories?
While teaching, would a teacher keep their weapon on their person or in a lock box?
If it was in a lock box on the other side of the room when a threatening person walked in, would the teacher be able to get to their gun in time?
If the threat and the teacher were in close proximity, would the threat not be able to disarm the teacher and turn the pistol on them and in turn the students?
... And since there was a resource or police officer on campus to help protect students and teachers, why didn’t that stop 17 people from getting killed and 15 from getting injured on February 14?
Gonzalez is one of several Marjory Stoneman Douglas students who have been pushing for gun law reform since the massacre. Their social media campaign, #NeverAgain, has galvanized a movement and garnered support from public figures like Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and George Clooney.