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One hundred fifteen days. It has been 115 days since the start of 2018, and already the U.S. has seen at least 58 mass shootings. Since the Parkland shooting, the idea of dying from gun violence has become a very real fear of mine.

It’s disappointing to watch these teenagers become the center of national attention, making themselves vulnerable to ridicule and hate… and for what? These students have created a movement to (literally) fight for their lives.

Clear backpacks and armed teachers are not the answer. As a nation, we must prioritize the lives of our fellow humans over our guns, and fight for further changes in gun reform.

Respectively, I feel that the main aspirations desired by the “March for Our Lives” participants, listed later in this letter, are what will make the most sense for our country.

Before I talk about the flaws with federal gun laws, I want to talk about the change that Parkland students have already brought. These students managed to have a bill pass, and although they say it’s “disappointing,” it’s still the first significant piece of gun legislation to come out of the Florida legislature in the past 20 years.

Also, the NRA is losing members and partnerships/sponsors, and politicians are now being put under microscopes. This has all happened in a matter of weeks, but

true change may take much longer.

Currently, the main goals of the “March for Our Lives” participants are to ban assault weapons, require universal background checks before all gun sales, and pass a gun violence restraining order law that would allow courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behavior.

According to federal law, background checks are required only for gun purchases from licensed commercial dealers, and not for purchases at gun shows. In addition, there is no waiting-period mandate, no restrictions on successive gun purchases, and no bans on assault weapons.

My favorite line in a Time article about the Parkland students is, “They’re young enough to be victimized by a school shooting, but old enough to shape the aftermath,” and I think that speaks volumes.

The constant whining from adults of these students being “too young” and “too immature” is incredibly meager — 20, 30 years ago, what were you worrying about as a kid? While I don’t know everybody’s background, I can almost guarantee that it wasn’t about dying in a mass shooting next to your classmates.

To those who are concerned that we — gun reform activists — are trying to take away guns completely: that is not the case. Current gun laws are far too lenient, and the politicians being paid off by the NRA are only fueling the fire of complacency.

Mass shootings should not be as common as they are now, and it’s that simple. The fact that students my age are referred to as the “school shooting generation” is bad enough.

While nothing but fear and heartbreak comes with gun violence, Parkland students have managed to utilize this moment in their lives, and turn their grief into motivation for political change. The numbers don’t lie — an estimated 800,000 people marched/protested in Washington, D.C. alone.

As a student myself, I am truly in awe of the movement these students created, and feel both inspired and empowered by the bravery shown by those all across the nation. Teenagers are known for being loud, opinionated, and ferociously stubborn, but perhaps that’s exactly what this country needs right now if we hope to have a less violent future.

SARAH H.

Winters High School student

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