By Erin Flaherty
On February 14th, 2018, at approximately 2:21 pm, Nicolas Cruz entered Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He proceeded to use his AR-15 style rifle to kill 17 students and staff, along with injuring more than 15 other students. The shooting has resulted in intense political discussion on gun violence around the country and even globally. But how has the town of Parkland been reacting to such tragedy? How have the survivors and family members of those lost been recovering?
Anthony Borges, a 15 year old student at Stoneman Douglas High School, is one of the many heroes that rose during the shooting. He was shot 5 times by the shooter while locking the door to his classroom, securing the lives of his 20 classmates. Like many other students who were injured, Anthony has started some of the many surgeries on his long road to recovery. When speaking on Anthony’s invitation to an FC Barcelona game in Spain, his father said that “when you see your child is happy, nothing else matters. The cost or effort involved is insignificant next to seeing your son happy.”
Many students from Stoneman Douglas High School have become powerful voices all over the news, most notably Emma González. An 18 year old survivor from Parkland, Emma has spoke at many events, including the CNN Town Hall and the March for Our Lives. Her powerful speech at the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. consisted of minutes of her silently standing on the stage, after which she then said “In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 more were injured, and everyone — absolutely everyone in the Douglas community — was forever altered,”.
Another survivor whose voice has been quite impactful is David Hogg, a 17 year old student at Parkland. During the shooting, Hogg was taking videos of what was going on around him and interviewing his classmates. "I want to show these people exactly what's going on when these children are facing bullets flying through classrooms and students are dying trying to get an education," , Hogg said to CNN. Since the shooting, Hogg has been all over the media, taking interviews with many sources like CNN and Fox. At the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C., Hogg said in his speech that “to those politicians supported by the NRA that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say get your resumes ready”.
Hogg has been criticized by many for being “anti-gun” due to his criticism of the NRA. On Fox, David said that “We’re calling out the NRA a lot and 99.9 percent of the people that are in the NRA are responsible, safe gun owners and I respect them for that. Joining an organization that wants to support safe gun ownership is excellent.” He has stated to several sources that he is for the 2nd Amendment and does not believe in taking that right away, saying that "We have a right to live just as we have a right to bear arms". He simply believes that we should all advocate for “trying to save kids’ lives, what can be more nonpartisan than that?”
Having the students rise up ”is kind of a wake-up call for people, because it’s the kids saying ‘enough is enough’”, said the daughter of David Sanders, a teacher who had been killed in the Columbine shooting in April of 1999. She thinks that the students speaking up is more powerful than any adult could be, saying that “These kids are going to change the world”.
Other powerful voices that have been circulating the news are those of the family members who lost their children in the shooting. Andrew Pollack lost his daughter, Meadow Pollack, in the shooting. Meadow had just got accepted to Lynn University. “We’re here because my daughter has no voice — she was murdered last week, and she was taken from us, shot nine times,” Andrew said at a meeting with Trump.
During the same meeting, Trump pitched the idea of arming teachers and school faculty with weapons. In response to that, Nicole Hockley, who lost her 6 year old son Dylan at the Sandy Hook shooting in December of 2012, said that “Rather than arm them with a firearm, I would rather arm them with the knowledge of how to prevent these acts from happening in the first place”. In a survey done by The Washington Post, around 42% of those surveyed think that the shooting would have been prevented if teachers were armed, but 58% think that stricter gun control laws would have prevented the shooting.
Districts around the country have announced new policies to prevent such devastating shootings. The Irondequoit Police Department in New York has announced that they will be assigning 1 police officer to stay on school grounds in 15 schools around the area. As officer Bradley Lape from Irondequoit hit on, this would allow officers to familiarize themselves with the building and the students.
But what changes have happened within Parkland? The board members of the Broward County district in Parkland passed a 24-point resolution, calling on congress to ban assault weapons, strengthen background checks, and create larger gun-free perimeters around schools. Robert Runcie, the Superintendent of the district, has called for a 10 week investigation of the shooter’s academic and social history. This would included interviewing the staff that had worked with him and analyzing any social or emotional help he received.
Runcie also sent a notice out to the parents of the Broward County School District that covered their new ID and clear backpack policy. Students of Stoneman Douglas High School will be provided clear backpacks and IDs to carry at all times. Many students have mixed feelings about these new implementations. Kyra Parrow, who is a current senior at Stoneman Douglas High School, tweeted her opinion on it, saying that it was “making my school seem like jail now because legislators don’t have common sense gun reform on their agendas.”
There are hundreds of different stories that have rose from Parkland from students and families who are all facing different traumas. But one thing remains true through all of them: In the face of terror, the families and survivors of the Parkland shooting have came together to make their voices heard. They’ve shown their strength to the rest of the country, inspiring many others to stand up for what they believe will help our country avoid such tragedies.