On March 24, I went to Washington D.C. to participate in the March for Our Lives. I missed a day of school and drove 10 hours each way. I am committed to the cause, so it was 100 percent worth it for me. I looked around the crowded streets and saw people who were like me and people who came from completely different backgrounds. Colorful and passionate signs were raised with anger in the blue sky, littered with just a few clouds. “No more silence, end gun violence,” was shouted throughout the crowd like a roar.
I know it sounds really cliché, but going to the protest was surreal. We all had different reasons for being there, but we had a common energy, a common purpose: to end gun violence. A girl next to me was wearing a Marjory Stoneman Douglas jacket, and there were tears in her eyes. She was there to remember her classmates and try to move on. An older woman and her friend were standing in front of me. They were there to support the young people standing up for what they believe in. I was there to show the nation that I wouldn’t stop fighting until some progress is made. Unfortunately, I am still fighting. This march brought us all together, but what about now?
Even though there were all these different people with completely unique stories raising their voices, I felt like we weren’t really heard. Sure, the news covered the shootings and the march, but that was it. What about now? Where are the promises from Congress to protect our future? Where is that relentless fighting for what we believe in? I feel like our voices have faded like whispers in the wind.
I didn’t go to Washington D.C. for our voices to be silenced, and yet now it seems like the fruits of our labor are minimal, if any. I guess that’s just how change is. I didn’t expect there to be some sort of wizard in Congress with a magic wand who could magically end gun violence, but I didn’t think it would feel like we were forgotten. It wasn’t like we made unreasonable demands. Banning the AR-15 makes so much sense since it’s still being used in the numerous mass shootings. I think change just takes time, though I wish it would speed up just a bit.
As of June 28, there have been 50 school shootings (including those where guns were fired but no one was injured) in 2018, according to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety. Thirty-two of these incidents occurred after the tragedy in Parkland, and 18 resulted in injury or death. That is outrageous.
The longer we wait, we risk more and more casualties. Do we really want to gamble with the lives of children? Congress decided to. After all, the school shooting at Sante Fe High School in Texas happened on May 18. That’s less than two months after the March for Our Lives. We made specific pleas for what would prevent this problem — gun control — yet Congress decided to let that idea move in one ear and out the other.
These recent shootings were preventable, as were many others if lawmakers had decided to pass gun control legislation. That’s the most maddening part of this entire ordeal. Imagine having to look into the eyes of the parents of a victim and explain to them that their child died because certain politicians like a steady paycheck from the NRA. That is heartbreaking.
Many people have voiced their anger in “thoughts and prayers” as the response to seemingly never-ending gun violence. I’m mad that instead of taking action we continue to think that this problem will solve itself. The body count has proven otherwise. We can’t let that tally get any bigger, so the time is now.
I want this movement to be like the other ones remembered in history for the change they brought about. I don’t want it to be over. We have so much more work to do. Yet, as more time passes, the movement gets weaker. More and more previously dedicated members to the cause are losing their drive. The national conversation is shifting to other issues. I feel like we are fading away, and that makes me pissed. That’s the opposite of what should be happening.
It is important that we don’t forget about this issue until the next mass shooting. We have the ability to prevent another massacre, but we have to continue fighting this uphill battle. So, I urge each and every one of you to get back your phone and call your senators, go get back on the streets to protest. And those of you who can, vote for someone who will fight this fight, and never stop until every child and every adult feels safe from gun violence.
Dana, 14, attends Grady High School and loves using her voice to make her views heard and hopefully change someone’s mind.