Written By: Piper Penney
February 14 will mark one year since the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The shooting claimed the lives of 17 people and injured 14 others. To commemorate the lives lost during the shooting, there will be a vigil held at Pine Trail Park in Parkland on February 14. The vigil will begin at 6 p.m.
The alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, is currently awaiting a trial, which is expected to start at the end of the year. In just one year since this terrible event, there have been many changes that have occured. The first of these is the March For Our Lives movement. After the shooting, Marjory Stoneman Douglas students came together with other leaders to form an organization with the goal of not letting gun violence continue.
While the march itself occured on March 24, the movement against gun violence has continued into 2019. Some students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have been touring the nation on the Road to Change, an event that encourages young people to register to vote and to participate in elections. The tour began in the summer of 2018 and continued into the fall of that year. More tour dates for 2019 have yet to be announced. The 2018 tour focused on getting young adults to vote in the midterm elections.
While there were other factors in the increase of voter turnout in young people, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) stated that the youth voter turnout in the midterm election did rise, going from 21 percent in 2014 to 31 percent in 2018.
Not only is the youth turnout rate improving, but the idea of preventing further gun violence is making its way to congress. Currently, House Democrats are proposing bill HR 8, which would close a loophole in legislation that allows private gun sellers, such as people who sell at gun shows rather than in a gun shop, to do business with buyers without running background checks on them first. The legislative piece was supported by many student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Even if the bill is not passed, it would signal a change in the way politicians see issues with gun violence. According to NPR, the bill would be the first major firearms-related bill to be introduced to the House since 1994. This shift in the House of Representatives could lead to a further interest in passing laws on gun control.
At our school, we have felt the effects and changes that were imposed because of this massacre. The first is that we now have a school resource officer. This is because one of the state laws passed after the shooting was that all schools needed to have a police officer on campus.
Our school resource officer, Officer Nunez, says that the Parkland shooting was a calling for him to become a resource officer. Nunez values the safety of students and explains how he prepares for the worst.
“[I prepare by] interacting with students, being proactive, getting to know students, training, and making sure I’m always on point,”Nunez said.
Additionally, state laws require that active shooter drills are now required to be conducted monthly, in addition to the traditional fire drills. At a local level, one change seen at our school since the shooting was the introduction of a chapter of the National Association of Students Against Gun Violence (NASAGV). The club encourages students to join the movement to end gun violence.
NASAGV Vice President Charles McCutcheon says that the club is taking action on a local and national scale.
“We hold informative meetings to educate about gun laws and loopholes, we register voters at school, and we hold sessions where students can write letters to and call their representatives”, McCutcheon says.
Looking back one year later, one definite conclusion was that 2018 was the year where students became more involved politically, which shows great progress in the amount of young people who care about voting and are passionate about making their voices heard in our democracy.