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WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH: Girls Behind Gun Control Campaign In US

Karthika S Nair | Mar 29 2020
Image credits: BP creatives

Girls Who Led Fight For Gun Control In America

"If all our government and president can do is send "thoughts and prayers" then it's time for the victims to become the change we need to see." - Emma Gonzalez.

 

The second amendment of the United States Constitution gives every citizen the right to carry firearms for self-defense. The guns were sold easily to anyone above 18 years of age and most states sold guns even without mandatory background checks. 

The country has seen massive gun violence and mass shootings over the years when vulnerable sections of the population were targeted. Mass shootings had been there in malls, theatres, churches, synagogues and for the worst, in schools and colleges. Women and minorities had been the most vulnerable victims of gun violence. 

In 2018, following a mass shooting in a school in Parkland Florida, the country saw people rise up against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the ruling politicians, who were alleged to be funded by the NRA, including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

This uprising was triggered by powerful words and demands made by the students of the school that witnessed the mass shooting, notably girls. 

Parkland School Shooting

On February 14th, 2018, a teenager named Nikolas Cruz opened fire using a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He was a former student there and hence the witnesses identified him. He killed 17 and injured 17 students and staff members. 

This was just one of the many deadly school shootings which took place in America that included the Sandy Hook shooting. 

Cruz fled the scene after committing the crime but he was caught soon. Cruz had troubles coping up with all the school transfers he had to undergo as well as the life as an orphan. He didn't get along with the others in Majory. He was said to have made threats to the students that prompted several people to report against him. Senior student Emma Gonzalez said that she was not surprised when she heard that Cruz had been the one who committed the crime. 

He has been charged with multiple counts of murder and the trial is still going on. 

Students' Anger And Activism 

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Parkland school shooting made the survivors and the victims' family members come out to the streets to protest against the authorities over poor gun control. Students such as Cameron Kasky, David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, etc. were active as activists.

United States President Donald Trump expressed "thoughts and prayers" and said that no student or teacher should go to school with fear. This didn't come down well with the students who highlighted the gun control laws as the main reason behind the crime. 

Many students took part in debates, conversations with politicians, public events and talk show appearances. They also conducted an event 'March For Our Lives' where hundreds of citizens, celebrities and politicians participated. They also conducted a school walkout to highlight the gun violence issue. 

Sarah Chadwick 

A student named Sarah Chadwick slammed President Donald Trump saying that the students and survivors don't want prayers but action. They wanted stronger laws to protect people from gun violence. 

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Spain you’ve been good to me

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Sarah's tweet went viral and several mainstream celebrities came up to highlight her words. Sarah apologised for using the f-word in her tweet to the president but refused to apologise for her angry words. 

She said that she saw the arrival of police cars and students were texting each other about being scared. 

Sarah Chadwick expresses her mind on Twitter and has as many as 150,000 followers. She calls out the NRA and member Dana Loesch with wits and sarcasm. 

She spoke about gun control in public appearances and in 'March For Our Lives' event. The media described her as someone very compelling when it comes to expressing her mind. 

Emma Gonzalez

Emma Gonzalez was a senior student at the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. Her friend was killed in the school shooting. Her reaction is what garnered national attention. 

Emma delivered a fiery speech before the survivors and families of the victims. She slammed the politicians for not forming proper laws to control guns so that people can't simply go and buy it. Emma pointed out that President Trump rolled back a mandate that kept guns out of the hands of people with mental health issues in 2017. People in Florida can simply go and buy guns without proper background checks or ID cards. 

She started the chant "we call BS" while calling out politicians including the ones who say that a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.

She co-founded the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD and spoke about gun control on various media. She helped in organizing the March for Our Lives event and led a six-minute-long silence during her speech to say that the gun violence took place in the school for six minutes. Along with her school mates, Emma was featured in TIME magazine and Vogue cover. 

She also slammed the law which gave the teachers the power to be armed in a 60 minutes interview. 

However, she is one of the students' activists who continue to face the heat. Lifetime NRA member Leslie Gibson called her a "skinhead lesbian." 

Trolls photoshopped a video of her tearing a chart with a bullseye, as part of the iconic Vogue cover, by replacing it with the constitution of the United States. This led to further attacks where right-wing highlighted that she released a video of herself tearing the constitution. Snopes.com observed that it was a digitally altered video. 

She was also slammed for being a bisexual and a Cuban who is up against the politicians including the president. 

Emma wrote articles for Teen Vogue, New York Times and Harper's Bazaar. 

Jaclyn Corin 

Jaclyn Corin is one of the leaders of the Never Again MSD activist movement. She organised student protest to Tallahassee, Florida against gun violence. She has been vocally dissenting against the politicians for supporting the gun sale and getting funds from the National Rifle Association. 

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I VOTED on my 18th birthday!!! 🗳🎈

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Her friends Joaquin Oliver and classmate Jaime Guttenberg were killed amidst the mass shooting. She had tutored the school shooter earlier. While the violence was happening, Jaclyn locked herself and her classmates until the police SWAT team came. 

She formed the Never Again MSD movement along with David Hogg, Emma González and Cameron Kasky.

She was the key planner of the 'March For Our Lives' event which took place on March 24th which saw the participation of celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Miley Cyrus, George Clooney, etc. 

She made a YouTube video titled "WhatIf" which got 1.4 million views in three days. She appeared in various talk shows such as Ellen show and Rachel Maddow Show to talk about 'March For Our Lives' and gun control. 

She also criticised the gun manufacturers for making the Ideal Conceal, a handgun that resembles a smartphone. She highlighted how police, during a confrontation, can misunderstand people who get their smartphones and shoot or arrest, especially the people of colour. 

Lauren Hogg

She is the sister of gun control activist David Hogg and she voiced against gun violence. She slammed the militarization of school which is a result of improper gun control and protecting citizens right to arm themselves with automatic weapons. 

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^^^

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She and her brother wrote the book '#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line' in 2018 which became a bestseller. She also wrote 'Activist: A Story of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting' in 2019.

Both Lauren and David faced the wrath of right-wing politicians and NRA supporters. Especially for campaigning against politicians who support the NRA.

The founders of 'MArch for Our Lives' wrote a book 'Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement' which became a bestseller. 

Response

Due to the intense pressure from the MSD students and the public, the politicians took action. President Trump directed the  Department of Justice to issue regulations to ban bump stocks that turn semi-automatic weapons to fully automatic. 

The lawmakers reintroduced the law that banned people with mental health from buying guns however it is still regarded as a complex and there are loopholes in the law.

The STOP School Violence Act was signed into law in 2018 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. This increases funding for metal detectors, security training, and similar safety measures to prevent gun violence. Activists criticised it as a process that has nothing to do with controlling the sale of guns.

The Florida Legislature, on the other hand, passed a bill titled the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act in March. As per this law, the minimum age to buy guns is 21 years, banned bump stocks, established waiting periods and background checks. Rick Scott signed the bill into law but it was challenged by the NRA.

NRA faced their share of heat. Several stores and companies boycotted the NRA.  Dick's, Walmart, and Fred Meyer voluntarily raised the age requirement on gun purchases to 21 instead of 18. Bank of America and Citibank ended some of their deals with gun manufacturers. The government offered to pay for the funeral and medical expenses of the victims under 'Florida's Crime Victims Compensation Fund.' 

Several gun owners and second amendment supporters took to social media to call out the government for improper gun control. A woman who hunts for a living shared a video of herself destroying her gun, as a sign of solidarity with students. 

President Trump however continues to describe gun violence as a mental health issue and wants more mental health institutions to be established in the country.

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Just some of my fav young people. pic by @jessedittmar for @politico

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