The Students Are Angry. Will Their Movement Last?

A few factors might give the Parkland protesters staying power, including their age
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2018 3:23 PM CST
The Students Are Angry. Will Their Movement Last?
Emma Gonzalez, a senior who survived Wednesday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, talks with people at North Community Park in Parkland, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. Gonzalez has emerged as a leading voice calling for tougher gun laws.   (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

The movement of young people demanding tougher gun laws after last week's shooting in Florida arrived at the White House Monday, where teens staged a "lie-in" to represent those shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, reports NBC4 Washington. "It's really important to express our anger," says a 16-year-old participant from Alexandria, Va. "Every day when I say bye to my parents, I do acknowledge the fact that I could never see my parents again." Here's a closer look at the movement—this speech by student Emma Gonzalez went viral over the weekend—and some analysis on why it may not be dissipating any time soon:

  • Three national protests: Fortune rounds up future protest plans, including student walkouts planned for March.
  • Post-Columbine: In the Washington Post, Philip Bump notes that today's high school students have never known a world where school shootings didn't exist, and that these survivors are different from those at Columbine, Newtown, and Virginia Tech. "This is the first premeditated mass shooting at this scale that involved people who both grew up entirely in a world in which mass shootings were common and which targeted people old enough to have a voice."

  • Rebuke to left and right: The wave of student activism is "remarkable," writes Alex MacGillis at ProPublica, who sees it as a rebuke not just to conservatives who oppose gun reform but to those on the left who have cynically declared that nothing will ever change and given up the fight.
  • Feels different: Yes, passionate voices have emerged after previous mass shootings, but this "feels different," writes Benjamin Hart at New York. "The preternatural poise of the students in the killings’ aftermath made it feel almost as though they had been anticipating the tragedy—which, in a society where mass-shooting drills at schools have become a fact of life, may not too be far off."
  • Let them vote: University of Kentucky College of Law professor Joshua Douglas makes the case that 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote. The teens in Florida witnessed horrors and are now pushing for safer schools. "We should include them more directly in our democratic process," he writes at CNN.
  • Not in vain: In a New York Times op-ed, 15-year-old Christine Yared, a student at Marjory Stoneman, writes that her friend Gina was killed and that her death should not be in vain. Among the tougher laws she wants: "If a person is not old enough to be able to rent a car or buy a beer, then he should not be able to legally purchase a weapon of mass destruction."
  • Trump's role: President Trump will meet with high school students for a "listening session" on Wednesday and host a similar forum the following day, reports the Hill. However, the president has been taking criticism from the Parkland students, with 17-year-old David Hogg calling him out on Sunday for faulting the FBI as too focused on the Russia investigation to stop the shooter. "You're the president," said Hogg on Meet the Press. "You're supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us," per the LA Times.
(More Florida school shooting stories.)

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