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#NeverAgain and gun regulation in America

After the Parkland shooting, gun debate in America has once again gained traction. The #NeverAgain movement, led by student survivors from Stoneman Douglas High School, is leading the charge against the politicians and policies they believe are responsible for slack gun laws in the United States.

The #NeverAgain movement has bolstered many young activists who finally feel their opinions will be heard by their representatives. Some members of #NeverAgain can’t even vote yet and they have already marched on the Florida State capital, with plans for more demonstrations in the future. The movement also provides a platform for the survivors of the Parkland shooting to give their unique perspective and broadcast to larger audiences. Much of the work the students are doing is online, allowing them greater outreach — especially to their own demographic.

CNN compiled a list of the “Most Powerful Quotes” from the Parkland shooting, and all of them speak directly to the heart of the movement. Many of them call out politicians who oppose gun regulation. “We’ve had enough of thoughts and prayers,” Delaney Tarr, one of the Parkland survivors, said. “To every lawmaker out there: No longer can you take money from the NRA. No longer can you fly under the radar doing whatever it is that you want to do…We are coming after every single one of you and demanding that you take action.”

At the Florida State Capitol, 100 students swarmed around their conservative representatives to demand answers. According to the New York Times, the young activists shouted, “Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!” at Governor Rick Scott, a staunch supporter of gun rights. On another floor, they crowded around the office of the speaker of the Florida House, Richard Corcoran, and screamed, “Face us down! Face us down! Face us down!”

Between Jan. 1, 2015 and Feb. 15, 2018 — the day of the Parkland shooting — there were 1,624 mass shootings in the U.S., defined as incidents where four or more people were shot, according to The Guardian. That’s 1,624 shootings in 1,870 days. While Florida’s Republicans face rising pressure on gun policy, historically the occurrence of another shooting means nothing. Gun regulation and its proponents have been heavily critiqued by the GOP and the conservative right. Infamously, Republicans and gun control opponents offer their “thoughts and prayers” after a tragic mass shooting.

Compared to the statistics, thoughts and prayers don’t add up. In fact, a growing number of people no longer care about the thoughts and prayers offered by politicians such as Vice President Mike Pence and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. President Donald Trump said, “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher, or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” But these Republicans “all have staunch pro-gun stances and financial ties to the NRA,” according to CNN, and, furthermore, have a history of doing nothing in response to calls for gun control.

The shooter at Parkland legally owned the AR-15 he used to kill 17 students and staff before fleeing the scene of the crime. The accessibility to such highly destructive assault weapons is just one aspect the #NeverAgain movement is fighting to change. Something needs to change. More and more people are being needlessly killed. As the president said, no one should be made to feel unsafe in school. Nothing will get done, however, as long as many of our politicians share the same NRA-funded sentiments they have for decades.

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