Once again America is faced with another school shooting. Sadly, tragedies like this one have become normalized and the same routine public mourning takes place: grief and shock, a call for stricter laws, and then deadlock. Surprisingly students from the Parkland High School shooting have reshaped the conversation about gun violence by demanding that actually change occurs and until this happens...their voices will not be silenced. These high schoolers have created a movement that has swept across the nation and world, all spearheaded by individuals who used affluence, social media, and determination to force politicians to actually act.
To say this is the perfect storm wouldn’t do the movement justice. Similar to the the individuals who started “Women’s March” and “Black Lives Matter Movement,” these high schoolers took it in their hands to force people to discuss this tragedy. What has really helped the #NeverAgain movement is the simple fact that students are fed up. Their message is clear: enough is enough. These young adults (who legally can’t vote) created a fire that has been thrust into the center of American civil discourse.
A crucial factor which hasn’t been addressed in the #NeverAgain movement is how affluence and wealth can be crucial factor to ignite and sustain popular protests. The median income of Parkland is $128,000, compared to $53,000 in surrounding Broward County. What makes this moment so interesting is that the even though there has been all this student activism, it’s undeniable that affluence has shaped student access to media outlets and also tangible results of the protest.
The ability to create a platform that allows many voices to be heard already sidesteps a potentially major hiccup, but the issue goes deeper. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, this outcry just highlights how poorer citizens struggle to gain political leverage compared to rich folks. The rich shape political campaigns and hold outsized influence over public discourse, too. This ultimately influences legislative priorities. As of writing, The March for Our Lives gofundme account has raised $3.3 million of $3.8 million goal for relief efforts and a March on Washington later this month.
Politicians have been given a simple ultimatum: get on board with gun control or risk being voted out of office. This public pressure already forced Florida Senator Marco Rubio to change his stance on gun control. This movement has a full head of steam, a clear common demand, and the drive to weather through the typical stage of gridlock and force for action to be made. Also, what has to be realized is that we are living in a day and age where money still plays a role in how individuals voices are heard.
#NeverAgain has spurred nationwide dinner time discussions that can involve all ages because everyone is directly or indirectly affected by the threat of guns to our schools. These brave kids have put the democratic system on notice because a new wave of young voters are approaching voting age and if these lawmakers don’t vote as their constituents demand there can be a dramatic shift in the legislative branch as young people are able to vote.