Last March 1.2 million people across the United States participated in the March for Our Lives. The movement, started by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, was unprecedented, with thousands of students participating in school walkouts to end gun violence and 1.6 million people using the tag #neveragain on Instagram.
However, five months later and just weeks into the 2018-2019 school year, the gun violence terrorizing American schools has continued. On August 17, two students were shot and injured at a shooting during a football game at Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington, Florida, just thirty-four miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.\
That leaves American students and supporters of the March for Our Lives Movement wondering if there is any hope for this movement. More and more people are becoming aware of the gun violence problem in America, but has anything really changed?
In short, the answer is yes. Around the country, stricter gun laws are gaining support. In the past few months California Governor Jerry Brown signed bills banning the sale of semi-automatic rifles with quickly detachable magazines, as well as prohibiting the sale of high capacity magazines and enforcing a background check for those purchasing ammunition.
Additionally, young people are getting more involved in politics. After the Parkland school shooting, Florida saw a 41% increase in youth voter registration, a result of new passion and motivation in young people to create political change after the March for Our Lives Movement.
Despite these victories, the movement to end gun violence is still far from over. In an op-ed for Teen Vogue, Emma Gonzalez, a Parkland shooting survivor and March for Our Lives activist said, “Any way you cut it, one of the biggest threats to life as a teen in the U.S. today is being shot.” Even with the progress that’s been made, this still stands true.
So what’s next for the March for Our Lives Movement? How can we continue to create lasting change?
For the students behind March for Our Lives, the answer is legislature. Currently, the activists are on a national tour– March for Our Lives: Road to Change. Their goal is to inform young people about gun violence and the movement for new legislature regarding gun control in America. They are also encouraging young people to get more involved in politics, and have been registering young voters all over the country.
With the tour, March for Our Lives is “turning [their] energy into action.” They don’t just want to tell young people about the gun issues in America, they want to motivate them to solve those issues through protest and rhetoric, and especially through voting.
But will this all work? Can a movement founded by teenagers really change centuries-old policies and attitudes in the United States?
We can’t say for sure if March for Our Lives will create national change any time soon. However, we can be sure of one thing– they’re going to try. “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks,” says Emma Gonzalez. “Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shootings in America, but because, just as David [Hogg, another survivor of the Parkland school shooting and March for Our Lives activist] said, we are going to be the last mass shooting.”