Responding constructively to Parkland shooting

Responding constructively to Parkland shooting

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida, many people are joining together in solidarity with the shooting survivors to fight for change. While another mass shooting staining our country’s history books has reignited the age-old gun-control debate and emboldened online trolls, plenty of people have been reacting to the tragedy peacefully and with outward expressions of solidarity in order to not produce any more hurt.

This response speaks to a larger issue: Peaceful protests, or nonviolent protests that don’t involve hurting people or property, are a good way to make our voices heard. 

A recent article by Time Magazine looked at how colleges are assuring prospective students that protesting for gun control will not affect their admission. According to the article, in the wake of the Parkland tragedy and the peaceful protesting that has followed (e.g., staged walkouts and more), colleges nationwide are standing by their future and current students as young people across the country (many high-school aged) are demanding stricter gun-control laws. 

Many of these colleges have taken to Twitter to stand in support of students who are engaged in peaceful protests. Brown University (@BrownUAdmission) tweeted, “Applicants to Brown: Expect a socially conscious, intellectually independent campus where freedom of expression is fundamentally important. You can be assured that peaceful, responsible protests against gun violence will not negatively impact decisions on admission to Brown.” 

One of the arguments that has been made following the Parkland shooting is that the protesters are “too young” to know what they are protesting for. This is mainly directed at the young survivors, who likely have more experience with the topic of gun violence than the people choosing to criticize their protesting efforts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with young people using their freedom of expression to become civically engaged if they are acting in a peaceful fashion.

The important part about protesting is that the efforts don’t bring more harm to the situation. Provoking more cruelty with violent or destructive protesting is never the answer. Having a conversation, like the Parkland survivors did with President Donald Trump, is much more likely to foster a dialogue that is mutually beneficial and will create a lasting, positive change. 

Grand Valley State University had an appropriate response to the Parkland tragedy, too, with the recent vigil that student senate held to show support and honor the victims and families of the shooting. This was a respectful way to show a united front, memorialize all those who lost their lives and stand in support of a greater cause. 

Another way to encourage positive change is to consider voting for political candidates who might offer reasonable solutions to these types of issues. A lot of the high school students who were directly affected by the Parkland shooting, as well as others who have been invigorated to demand political reform in solidarity, will have achieved the minimum voting age prior to the elections in November. If they (or you) want changes made to gun control or funding for mental health treatment, they should consider how they might be able to achieve that in the voting booth this fall.