Survivors of the Feb. 14 Florida school massacre visited 80 cities and towns in two dozen states, working to register young new voters who might help defeat political leaders supported by the National Rifle Association. “It’s going to take a cultural shift” to change U.S. gun laws, says a student leader.
Six months after the school shooting in Parkland, Fa., some surviving students are becoming more organized and more ambitious — what Axios calls “ringleaders of a vocal, demanding, tech-savvy strata of their generation. Axios traveled with a group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumni who finished a summer-long bus tour on Sunday in Newtown, Ct., home of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Parkland activists are aware that many baby boomers and millennial adults are throwing up their hands over gun laws and placing their hope for change in high school students. An anti-establishment strain runs through it, a trend that could be decisive in both local and national races in midterm elections.
When 17 of their classmates and teachers were killed on Feb. 14, the Parkland students shouted: “Never again.” A dozen more school killings occurred later. On Wednesday, classes resume at Stoneman Douglas and at other U.S. schools in the subsequent days and weeks. “It’s going to take a cultural shift” before U.S. gun laws change significantly, Jaclyn Corin, president of the incoming senior class at Stoneman Douglas, said in Newtown. “And a cultural shift always takes a generation or two.” Parkland classmates ran a 59-day summer bus campaign. They hit 80 cities and towns in two dozen states, working to register young new voters who might help defeat political leaders supported by the National Rifle Association. This fall, the students plan a get-out-the-vote drive that will leverage their vaunted influence on social media, especially Twitter. At event after event there appeared to be far more adults than their 18-and-older intended audience. Registration of voters 18-29 this year has barely budged from the pre-Parkland average, the Washington Post found. The young organizers are pursuing a strategy of not changing votes, but turning non-voters into voters.