“We call B.S.” Emma Gonzalez said, fighting back tears and speaking through grief as she spoke at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. this past weekend — a place mere minutes away from President Trump’s “winter White House” at Mar a Lago. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior did so just days after the alleged gunman — Nikolas Cruz — killed 17 of her classmates in one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.
“Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving,” she began. “But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see.”
Her words echo a growing sentiment around the nation, as mass school shootings in America become a more sentient reality by the day. In just 2018 alone, there have already been three mass school shootings in the U.S. That’s a shooting specifically narrowed to include a situation where more than one student was injured by a bullet or shot at inside a school. Widening the focus leads to a more alarming picture: there have been 18 incidents in the U.S already this year where a firearm went off, either by accident, through a suicide attempt, or intentionally in a school in the U.S.
And the school-shooting-generation has had enough. As lawmakers with deep financial ties to the NRA dither on the subject, the victims of these shootings are rising up and demanding furious action — all as they choke back tears. “The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call B.S.,” Gonzalez said, her voice rising to crescendo. “Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call B.S. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call B.S. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call B.S.”
She hasn’t been the only student to speak out. David Hogg, head of the student TV station at Stoneman Douglas High School, has been speaking candidly and forcefully in the press. At CBS, he penned an opinion piece with some strong words for lawmakers and adults around the country. “To elected officials I say this: Don’t lie to us. Don’t make any more false promises, because when you do, children die,” Hogg wrote. “I support the Second Amendment. But for God’s sake, how can we knowingly pass bills and laws that are in direct opposition to saving kids’ lives? Sandy Hook … the Pulse nightclub shooting … the Las Vegas shootings, just to name a few. What legislation was passed in response? The answer to that question is, little, if any.”
Since the year 2000, according to columnist Amanda Erickson and her colleagues at the Washington Post, the U.S has suffered through 188 “shootings at schools and universities.” As for mass shootings (incidents in which more than two victims were recorded) there were 57 between 2000 and 2010. Twenty-eight of them were in the United States. Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, “more than 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings” in the United States according to the New York Times. This is a uniquely American problem. It is an epidemic. And our students, perhaps the last depoliticized faction of American life at the moment, have had enough.
Gonzalez, a high school senior, said it best. “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. 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.”
We hope so, but something tells us this aspect of American life won’t go away without a fight.