The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last week reignited a longstanding debate about gun control in the U.S. This kind of back-and-forth has become virtually guaranteed in the wake of each mass shooting. It’s become so commonplace that the NRA even has a playbook that outlines how it responds in the media after high-profile shootings.
But this time, some survivors are sending a message of “enough is enough” to lawmakers in Washington by planning nationwide marches and school walkouts for gun control.
“We’re marching because it's not just schools. It’s movie theaters, it’s concerts, it’s nightclubs,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High student Alex Wind told NBC’s Meet the Press. “This kind of stuff can’t just happen. You know, we are marching for our lives, we’re marching for the 17 lives we lost. And we’re marching for our children's lives and our children’s children and their children.”
The students, who are working with activist groups, have so far scheduled two events: the National School Walkout on March 14 and the March for Our Lives on March 24. Both events seek to push lawmakers to act on gun control measures, though it’s not clear yet exactly what kinds of laws the students and activists hope to pass.
In any case, some of the students feel that lawmakers aren’t doing all they could to prevent mass shootings. Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, addressed a crowd attending a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday:
“Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS...They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS.”
President Donald Trump didn’t mention gun control measures on Wednesday when he addressed the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but he wrote on Twitter the day before:
“No child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning.”
More guns, more violence?
Some researchers say there’s a causal relationship between the number of guns and the amount of violence in an area.
“Within the United States, a wide array of empirical evidence indicates that more guns in a community leads to more homicide,” David Hemenway, the Injury Control Research Center’s director, wrote in Private Guns, Public Health.
In the U.S., there’s an apparent correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths across the 50 states, as this chart from Mother Jones illustrates:
In 2016, researchers conducted the largest gun control study ever by analyzing the results of 130 “high-quality” studies on gun control measures in 10 countries over 60 years. The team found that more restrictions on guns resulted in fewer deaths.
“Across countries, instead of seeing an increase in the homicide rate, we saw a reduction,” lead researcher Julian Santaella-Tenorio from Columbia University told Zack Beauchamp at Vox.
Santaella-Tenorio said countries that passed several gun laws at once tended to see more drastic reductions in gun-related deaths. As Fiona Macdonald at Science Alert noted, these “overhauls” tended to include:
- Banning “weapons that are actually very powerful,” for example, automatic weapons.
- Implementing background checks.
- “They all required permits and licenses for purchasing guns,” Santaella-Tenorio told Vox.
The research might be clear, but what’s not is whether the protests will sway the large portion of Americans committed to a more absolute interpretation of the Second Amendment – especially when students use absolute language like Marjory Stoneman Douglas High junior Cameron Kasky did at a recent rally:
“My message for the people in office is: You're either with us or against us.”
Still, his message is bound to get some major attention.
“We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around,” he said.
Visit the March for Our Lives website for more information.