Cape Times

Detailing aftermath of Parkland mass shooting

How pupils’ march against guns became fourth-largest in US history

- PARKLAND Dave Cullen (R378) RIVERRUN


THE horrors of mass shootings in the US occur so frequently that from afar they all seem to melt into one clump of sameness.

But the aftermath of one such shooting was quite different.

On February 14, 2018, a lone gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 pupils and staff members, and injuring 17 others.

Four days afterwards, four of the surviving teenage schoolchil­dren announced the audacious March for Our Lives, aimed at preventing gun violence in America. A month later, it was the fourth largest protest in American history.

In Dave Cullen’s spellbindi­ng book, Parkland, he takes us on the students’ odyssey. With unrivalled access to them, their friends and families, meetings, homes and tour bus through gun country, he reveals the quirky and playful organisers that took the US by storm.

We read how they coped with shattered friendship­s and posttrauma­tic stress disorder, along with the normal struggles of exams and college acceptance­s.

“It was seed that launched this movement and a breadth of talent that packed its punch. That first night, Cameron Kasky, Jackie Corin and David Hogg started simultaneo­usly on separate tracks to completely different movements, which they fused forty-eight hours later to form a juggernaut. Cameron’s first and best move was assembling talent.

“By Saturday, when Emma Gonzalez went viral, two dozen creatives were conjuring up a new movement.

“I spent 10 months shadowing these kids, frequently racing around the country in opposite directions. That was their secret weapon: waging this battle on so many fronts a host of different voices, perspectiv­es, and talents – healing each other as they fought.”

The Parkland kids made two decisions immediatel­y: speak with one voice, and hammer one topic. They chose guns.

The focus they have chosen is an extremely challengin­g and complicate­d one, but they are in it for the long haul.

Progress is slow but some light is beginning to shine. As recently as March 2018, Congress advanced guncontrol measures when the House Democrats passed legislatio­n to require universal background checks for gun sales, closing loopholes that allow one in five guns to be sold without a completed check.

Sadly, the mass shootings continue, the latest being at Virginia Beach on May 31.

I urge you to search YouTube for a clip of Gonzalez’s breathtaki­ng speech at the Washington, DC protest rally, remember she was but 18 years old at the time.

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