In this op-ed, April Ma, founder of the Johnson County, Kansas, chapter of Students Demand Action, shares how she and her peers are working to end gun violence.
As a high school senior, I’ve grown up in the midst of our country’s gun violence crisis. The media has dubbed us the “mass shooting generation” — kids and teenagers who have grown up in a country where phrases like “another mass shooting” are part of the everyday vernacular. In school, we are taught to recognize the difference between the popping sound of fireworks and the blast of a gun. Why have we allowed this to become normal?
Every one of us can help prevent gun violence. For me, the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, was horrifying, but it wasn’t the first time gun violence had hit close to home. Four years ago on my birthday, there was a shooting at the Jewish Community Center just 10 minutes from my house near Kansas City. A white supremacist shot and killed three people at the center and at an assisted living facility nearby, including a high schooler in my district. I didn’t know any of the people who died, but the shooting woke me up to how hate and easy access to firearms could be deadly. I was scared, but it wasn’t until the tragedy in Parkland that I realized that I had to do something.