It’s barely been a month since the devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, but student survivors including Emma González are already at the forefront of the fight against gun violence. They’ve organized a nationwide school walkout and, this weekend, will lead the global March for Our Lives. Now, in a poignant op-ed for Teen Vogue‘s March digital issue, González has explained why the people advocating the loudest for stricter gun legislation are teens who can’t even vote yet.
González acknowledged how quickly she and many of her fellow Stoneman Douglas students, several of whom appear on the striking digital covers for the new issue of Teen Vogue, stepped up to make a change after the tragedy, which killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day. “In just a few weeks’ time, we, the youth of the United States, have built a new movement to denounce gun violence and call for safety in all of our communities,” she wrote. “And this is only the beginning.”
She went on to call out the lawmakers who are either funded by the gun lobbyists or have simply neglected to properly protect their constituents with better gun control legislation. “Gun violence has torn up many communities across the country, mainly due to negligence on behalf of local and national government to properly regulate access to guns, ignorance to their constituents’ varying situations, and willingness to take money from organizations that very clearly do not have the best intentions for the future of the United States,” González wrote. “Young people in this country have experienced gun violence for their entire lives, only to be faced with a number of representatives and officials who have been seduced by the gun lobby or have generally failed to make effective change.” She added, “After all of this pain and all of this death caused by gun violence, it seems as if the kids are the only ones who still have the energy to make this change.”
The 18-year-old continued with a call to action. “Fed up with the apathy pervading this country, we realized that we don’t need to wait around to have our voices heard or for someone else to make a change — we have to be the change we need to see,” she wrote, calling on “the adults” to join the movement and listing the steps that need to be taken to prevent gun violence from taking any more lives. “We need to digitize gun-sales records, mandate universal background checks, close gun-show loopholes and straw-man purchases, ban high-capacity magazines, and push for a comprehensive assault weapons ban with an extensive buyback system.”
González closed her op-ed on a powerful note, pointing out that it’s never too early or too late to try to make a difference in the world. “We Stoneman Douglas students may have woken up only recently from our sheltered lives to fight this fight, but we stand in solidarity with those who have struggled before us, and we will fight alongside them moving forward to enact change and make life survivable for all young people,” she wrote. “The media afforded a group of high school students the opportunity to wedge our foot in the door, but we aren’t going through this alone. As a group, and as a movement, it’s vital that we acknowledge and utilize our privilege, use our platforms to spread the names of the dead and the injured, promote ideas that can help spread kindness rather than hostility, support those who aren’t being heard, take our voices and use them together with the megaphones provided.”
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