One year ago today, a gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Parents and students, all of whom are still grappling with the devastating losses, shared their heartbreak for the world to see.
“Exactly one year ago, to the minute around 7 am, I sent two kids to school. Only my son Jesse came home,” Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime, wrote. “Jaime was murdered in school. I am forever haunted by my memory of that morning, rushing my kids out the door rather than getting one last minute. Did I say I love you?”
“It was not supposed to be the last time I would see Jaime,” he continued in another post. “For those who still want to deny the reality of gun violence, my daughter IS Jaime Guttenberg. I will be visiting her today at the cemetery. Jaime, I love you forever and miss you every second of every day.”
Guttenberg’s mother, Jennifer, also penned a heartbreaking essay for Newsweek about the pain of losing her daughter.
Students also remembered their loved ones and recalled the horrors they felt.
As demonstrated by their posts, the year following the horrific tragedy was a time for mourning and grief. But it was also a time for action, as parents and students organized, marched and appealed to politicians to value human lives more than political donations from the NRA so that no one else would have to suffer the pain caused by mass shootings, which occur almost daily in the United States, according to Vox.
Over the past year, the Parkland survivors encouraged lawmakers to sign 67 gun safety laws, including increased background check requirements, enforced waiting periods, bans on bump stocks and laws that make it significantly more difficult for domestic abusers to purchase firearms. Their stories inspired generations of voters during the midterms and even encouraged a new wave of politicians to run for office.
Even today, as they mourn the deaths of their friends, these parents and students are fighting to ban assault weapons, holding elected representatives responsible for their actions and inactions and writing bills to end the gun violence epidemic.
Their work, however, is far from over. Today, lobbyists and politicians still advocate for concealed-carry reciprocity laws (meaning those with concealed-carry permits in one state could carry into another), allowing guns on campus and looser background check regulations.
These young activists need support so that no child will fear going to school or to the movie theater or to the grocery store or to church or to the dozens of other spaces made unsafe by gun violence. The time for thoughts and prayers is over; the time to join the Parkland families in pushing for change is now.
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