‘Never Again’ – The Student Struggle Disarming the US

The Parkland shooting unleashed an unprecedented teenage movement demanding “effective control” over firearms from the political establishment.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a radical advocate of the freedom to bear arms, and someone who has received extensive funding from the powerful American gun lobby, had to hear the inquisitorial question as many as three times: “Are you going to be accepting money from the [National Rifle Association] in the future?” The tension could be cut with a knife. Eight days later, a few kilometers from the Parkland high school where Nikolas Cruz’s shooting spree cut short the lives of 17 former fellow students, Cameron Kasky, one of the survivors of the slaughter, waited impassively for the Cuban-American congressman to answer. Under the attentive eye of the millions of people watching the televised debate on CNN, a hesitant Rubio defended the right of the NRA to be part of his political agenda, but also, for the first time, agreed to legal reforms he had repeatedly opposed. For instance, raising the minimum age to purchase firearms.

This is not the only image proving that an improvised teenage reaction has rattled the stony manner in which the United States has faced its greatest crossroads until now: the thousands of violent deaths it accepts each year as though they are a punishment of fate. That same day, Donald Trump met with a selection of parents, teachers and students from the distressed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was a harrowing encounter which, by his own admission, made an impact on the scarcely impressionable president. The White House has responded with proposals to reduce the purchase and sale of guns, as well as the possibility of arming those teachers who are already experienced in handling guns. Regardless of the final scope of the measures, the debate has been cut wide open. As if reaching acceptance about the past failure of not knowing how to protect the most vulnerable among them, American society now appears aroused by a committed group of youths that demand “an effective control” over guns. The fact that this tide has emerged in the heart of Florida, one of the most conservative states, and not in the country’s largely progressive big coastal cities, bolsters the authenticity of a movement christened by its proponents as “Never Again.” Even Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican to boot, is spearheading the protest with his announcement of a plan to protect schools.


Valentine’s Day 2018 will go down in the country’s history as the catalyst of a student uprising with few precedents. It is a peaceful revolt carried out by the so-called Generation Z – those born after the year 2000 – who are social media natives capable of connecting and mobilizing thousands of Americans within seconds. Today, thousands of teenagers are paving the way, something which the parents and teachers from Sandy Hook Elementary School (Newtown, Connecticut) were unable to do in 2012. Back then, the emotional shock of an entire nation, paralyzed by the point-blank range killing of more than 20 children, was engulfed by the same ideological polarization that for years has blocked any initiative to prevent such tragedy. Few think to question the substance of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms — a tradition and identity of a unique country — but the adoption of legal measures seems unstoppable.*

The student movement emerged with the same unexpected spontaneity with which minors were forced to become live witnesses to the deaths of their peers. The same spontaneity that led hundreds of young people from neighboring schools to Capitol in Washington, D.C. in a matter of a few hours in response to the viral outcry raised by those in Parkland. That day, prominent faces from the high school relinquished their national anonymity in order to issue a challenge to the political establishment. In the midst of experiencing a profound emotional impact, young people such as Delaney Tarr, Emma González, and Alfonso Calderón, a Spanish student born in Alcobendas (Madrid), summarized their complaint with the statement: “We’ve had enough of thoughts and prayers. [We’re] demanding that you take action, [we’re] demanding that you make a change.”


The student movement has hardly taken its first steps. Nobody is willing to let that response which has already compromised institutions wither. Backed by more than $4 million in donations contributed by celebrities such as George Clooney and his wife Amal, as well as Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, the student leaders forge ahead in their purpose. They do so, not without showing undisguised wariness toward the ideological intoxication of the purity of their cause, like the allure of the money coming from liberal Hollywood. Just as they have been forced to fight off ultraconservative attacks, such as the one accusing David Hogg – another visible face of the movement – of being a paid actor who took part in other protests by the left.

Nothing will dissuade those who are committed to remaining vigilant in their fight. After actively pressuring Florida and Washington members of Congress, the Parkland students will go back to school tomorrow. The high school reopens its doors, but it will not cease in its struggle. March 14, one month after the tragic shooting, will be the epicenter of 17 minutes of silence, one per victim, observed by schools across the country. On March 24, thousands of young people are expected to respond to their call at the Washington Mall, where the Capitol may be witness to the greatest demonstration in favor of gun control of recent history. On April 20, coinciding with the 19th anniversary of another of the country’s great tragedies which took the lives of 12 students and one teacher at Columbine’s high school (in Colorado), the Parkland students will try to keep the flame alive, seeking to ensure that their classmates did not die in vain.

*Editor’s note: The Second Amendment provides: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

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