Students Speak Out About Guns. Emma González's Words Captivated The Nation.

Students Speak Out About Guns. Emma González's Words Captivated The Nation.

Ellie Branson, center, was among the many teenage participants in the Not One More rally for gun legislation held at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday.

Since Wednesday 21 February, when a gunman killed 14 students as well as three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students' voices have resonated where those of longtime politicians have fallen flat.

On Saturday 24 February, another young woman’s powerful words captivated the nation.

Emma González, a senior, spoke publicly at the rally, pledging that her school would be the site of the last mass shooting of the nation. How could she know? Because, as she said, she and her peers would take it upon themselves to “change the law.”

“The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us,” she said. “And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call B.S.”

“They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence — we call B.S.!” she added as a chorus of supporters echoed her. “They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun — we call B.S.! They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars — we call B.S.! They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred — we call B.S.! That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works — we call B.S.!”

She wiped her eyes aggressively and, then, urged the people in the crowd to register to vote — and to give their elected officials “a piece of your mind.”

Only a few hours later, one video of the speech had been viewed over 100,000 times.

In a telephone interview early Sunday, Ms. González, 18 years old, said she was surprised by the enthusiastic reaction to her speech.

Students Speak Out About Guns. Emma González's Words Captivated The Nation.

Emma González, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, called for gun control in an impassioned speech that was widely spread on social media.Credit: Jonathan Drake/Reuters

“I just got off the phone with Demi Lovato,” she said. “That’s not normally something that ever should have happened.”

Ms. González added that she was encouraged to speak out, in part, by other supportive people in her community, particularly those who she said don't yet feel comfortable talking publicly.

“This is my whole world now,” she said. “I cannot allow myself to stop talking about this.”

A person Ms. González met at a party was killed in the shooting, she said; another person she has known for “an incredibly long time” is still in the hospital.

“Everybody needs to understand how we feel and what we went through because if they don’t, they’re not going to be able to understand why we’re fighting for what we’re fighting for,” Ms. González said.

She noted that some had criticized students for raising their voices, suggesting that they take the time to grieve instead.

“This is the way I have to grieve,” Ms. González said. “I have to make sure that everybody knows that this isn’t something that is allowed to happen.”

Here are the voices of several other students who, like Ms. González, have recently spoken out.

David Hogg, 17: ‘We’re children. You guys are the adults’

While David Hogg, 17, and dozens of his Stoneman Douglas classmates were hiding in the dark in the school chef’s office, he interviewed them on camera about their views on gun policy. Mr. Hogg, a senior and the student news director, later told The New York Times that lawmakers must make schools safer.

“We need to do something,” he said. “We need to get out there and be politically active. Congress needs to get over their political bias with each other and work toward saving children’s lives.”

Referring to politicians, Mr. Hogg told CNN: “We’re children. You guys are the adults.”

Hours after the mass shooting, surviving students turned to social media to discuss gun control. They addressed the prevalence of such attacks and why somebody with a mental illness can buy a gun.

Carly Novell, 17: ‘This IS about guns’

Just hours after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at their high school in Parkland, Fla., students turned to social media to advocate for more gun control. Feb. 16, 2018

“Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings,” Carly Novell, a 17-year-old senior who is an editor for the school’s quarterly magazine, wrote on Twitter. “This IS about guns.”

In a video interview with The Times, Ms. Novell said she was trying to use her anger fruitfully.

“People always talk about gun control and how things need to change, but nothing ever does,” she claimed. “And that is so frustrating.”

The public outcry from some Stoneman Douglas students was vastly different from the response of survivors of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. These students two decades ago didn't turn to activism as they grieved.

Tyra Hemans, 19: ‘I want to talk with’ Trump

Students Speak Out About Guns. Emma González's Words Captivated The Nation. - Tyra Hemans, 19 ‘I want to talk with’ Trump

Tyra Hemans, a 19-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, demonstrated near the police cordon around the school.Credit: Zachary Fagenson/Reuters

In contrast, Tyra Hemans, a senior at Stoneman Douglas, brought a poster featuring the word “ENOUGH” to a funeral for one of her classmates on Friday. She said she also wanted to deliver a message to President Trump.

“I want our politicians to stop thinking about money and start thinking about all these lives we had lost,” she said. “I want to talk with him about changing these laws.”

Daniela Palacios, 16: ‘Change is going to come of this’

Among those who attended Saturday’s rally was Daniela Palacios, 16 years old, a sophomore at another Broward County high school, Cypress Bay.

That was her first protest, she said, and she stood with her mother, a tiny gold cross on a chain around her neck.

Returning to school after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas had been challenging, she explained, and she said she was there to call for a ban on firearms like the semiautomatic AR-15 rifle used by the gunman.

“Wherever you bump into someone, there is the fear that they’re the next shooter,” she said, “and every bell is a gunshot.”

“I feel like some change is going to come of this,” she went on, her voice barely audible amid the roar of the crowd. “I feel hopeful.”

When the protest ended, a group of teenagers stayed behind, chanting and hugging — and chanting again.

“It could have been us,” one sign read. “My friend died for what?” said another.

“No more guns! No more guns! No more guns!” they yelled.

Ellie Branson, 16: ‘Can you include the names of the victims?’

Students Speak Out About Guns. Emma González's Words Captivated The Nation. - Ellie Branson, 16 ‘Can you include the names of the victims’

Ellie Branson at the Not One More rally to support gun legislation held at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.Credit: Saul Martinez for The New York Times

Among those leading the group was Ellie Branson, 16, a junior from South Broward High School. She wore a yellow and white T-shirt, her cheeks wet with tears.

When the protest finally ended, she texted a reporter.

“Can you include the names of the victims?” she asked. “Their names are more important than mine.”

Reference: NYTimes

Students Speak Out About Guns. Emma González's Words Captivated The Nation. Students Speak Out About Guns. Emma González's Words Captivated The Nation. Reviewed by Katerina Papakyriakopoulou on 1:55 PM Rating: 5


  1. there are some really hollow arguments getting around, who can throw a knife two to three hundred yards maintain the velocity of a bullet with enough impact to kill a person. I do not know what the terrain at that terrible tragedy was like, but I suspect that there would have been some sizable barriers to stop any vehicles. I hope the students prevail, I would not under estimate them because of their age, from what I have heard so far they can match intellect with intellect and then some.

  2. It is necessary to read more such messages.
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