In the wake of the horrifying school shooting in Parkland, Fla., the ongoing gun control debate has intensified. But the loudest voice in the political conversation isn’t President Donald Trump, lawmakers or the National Rifle Association. It’s Emma Gonzalez, an 18-year-old survivor and senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
On Saturday, Gonzalez joined an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale, where she delivered an impassioned speech demanding change, calling politicos out on their inaction and declaring that young people will rectify a massive problem Washington seems incapable of doing.
“We are going to be the last mass shooting,” Gonzalez said outside of the Broward County Federal Courthouse. “That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook, and it’s all going to be due to the tireless efforts of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most importantly the students.”
The Latina teen, who was sitting on the floor in an auditorium when the shooting began, comforting classmates before first responders came to their aid, criticized Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott for doing little more than sending “thoughts and prayers” to the families of victims of gun violence.
“Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see,” an enraged Gonzalez said while reading her speech from the back of her AP Government notes.
The survivor also stressed that if politicians really wanted to send their condolences they would cut ties with supporters like the NRA.
“Thirty million dollars,” she exclaimed, noting the amount of money Trump has received from the NRA. “And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don’t do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.”
Gonzalez, whose voice thundered louder throughout her speech, leaving audiences with goosebumps, went on to declare the responses to armed violence from gun advocates as bullshit.
“They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS,” González yelled, starting a call-and-response from the crowd. “They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.”
Teen survivors have been vocal on social media, urging lawmakers to change legislation. Students have taken to the street, staging walkouts in protest of gun violence. And on March 24, young people will take to Washington, where they will march for gun control.
“If you agree,” Gonzalez said at the end of her speech, “register to vote. Contact your local congresspeople. Give them a piece of your mind.”