After a gunman entered a high school in south Florida Wednesday and killed 17 people, news networks across the country portrayed a now-familiar scene. Students, abandoning their backpacks, sprinted out of the buildings. Helicopters circled as ambulances rushed to the scene. Authorities chased, and eventually captured the shooter.
And then, by the next morning, something new: angry, shaken, and still-shocked students speaking out.
“My sister, she’s a freshman, and she had two of her best friends die, and that’s not acceptable,” senior David Hogg told CNN in one of the first student interviews.
In the days that followed, the students have only grown louder. A group of five students appeared on several national news programs together on Sunday. One published an op-ed on CNN’s website. And on Sunday, the five student leaders announced they would be organizing a national March for Our Lives on March 24.
“This is not something that we are going to sweep under the carpet,” Emma Gonzalez, one of the students, said on Meet the Press, sitting beside the four others. “We’re going to push no matter how hard it takes.”
President Trump is also listening. A source told the Washington Post this weekend that the president “was closely monitoring the media appearances by some of the surviving students.”
Conversation in America typically moves on from a mass shooting within a few weeks after there are no policy changes to prevent another gun violence incident. Meet the students making sure the murder of their classmates does not follow history:
On Meet the Press, Corin said that before last week, she never imagined she would become a political activist.
After Wednesday, however, the high school junior has become a student leader and is starting by organizing a trip to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, with roughly 100 other students to speak with members of the state Senate, House of Representatives, and potentially Gov. Rick Scott (R).
The group will travel more than 450 miles to talk to 10 state senators and representatives from both parties Wednesday.
Will be reviewing preexisting bills today and deciding which ones we’ll be stressing when we go to Tallahassee. My friends and I will be very well prepared!!!!
— Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin) February 19, 2018
“We have to be the adults in this situation because clearly people have failed us in the government,” she said.
On Saturday, Gonzalez spoke passionately at a rally outside a federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.
“The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us,” the senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School said. “And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call B.S.”
Wiping tears from her eyes on several occasions, Gonzalez told people to vote out of office politicians who are funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA). According to the New York Times, one video of Gonzalez’s speech was viewed more than 100,000 times in just a few hours.
On Meet the Press, Gonzalez said she was speaking directly to President Trump, Gov. Scott, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), telling them as people in power, that they have a responsibility to act.
“These people, who are being funded by the NRA, are not going to be allowed to remain in office,” she said.
Hogg was one of the first students to appear on national news after the shooting. In a clip that quickly circulated across the internet, the 17-year-old senior looked directly into CNN’s camera and pleaded with lawmakers to do something.
“We’re children,” he said. “You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together. Come over your politics and get something done.”
He has also said that he will not feel safe going back to school until lawmakers take action.
“What I’m looking for is reasonable change with the United States Congress and bills that are passed before I get back to school,” he said on Meet the Press. “This is not the time for inaction and debate.”
Hogg ended the segment by telling Trump that “blood is on your hands.”
Kasky targeted politicians taking money from the NRA on Fox News.
“At this point, you’re either with us or against us,” he said.
Cameron Kasky, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: “My message for the people in office is: you’re either with us or against us. We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around.” (via CNN) https://t.co/ShcPmXgXJR
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 18, 2018
In an interview, Kasky said he is excited to go back to school and be around the supportive community of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
“One of the best things to come out of this tragedy is the fact that Parkman has stayed strong, and we’re not going to let the 17 bullets we just took take us down,” he said. “If anything, we’re going to keep running and we’re going to lead the rest of the nation behind us.”
Wind, a 17-year-old junior, has vowed not to return to class until gun laws change.
“How are we supposed to feel safe again?” he said in an interview with the Washington Post. “What if this happens again? What if this happens in any other school? How are we supposed to know and feel safe in those exact hallways where the shooting happened if nothing changes? If these laws caused the shooting in the first place, what’s going to stop [another shooting] if the laws don’t change?”
On Meet the Press, Wind said he and his classmates are planning the national march to create a safer country for all Americans.
“It’s not just schools — it’s movie theaters, it’s concerts, it’s nightclubs,” he said. “This kind of stuff can’t just happen. We are marching for our lives, We are marching for the 17 lives we lost, and we’re marching for our children’s lives and our children’s children and their children, and we’re marching for everybody’s lives.”