The Fight for Gun Control: Using Social Media to Make an Impact
Every day the news portrays the world as a nightmarish, chaotic place to live in. Today, more than ever, it is important to look at the progress being made across America. This story begins with sadness, and ends with the union of schools across the country to subdue the epidemic of gun violence in America.
A discussion about guns is not an easy one, and with extremely divisive politics it can be hard to root out the facts. However, the truth is, since the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, where a gunman with schizophrenia used an assault rifle to kill 20 students and 6 teachers, many thought that it would be the turning point on gun control legislation. Since Sandy Hook, however, 239 schools have been victims of shootings, and of those schools, 438 people were shot, 138 of whom died.
The issue of gun violence has been a recurring dilemma for a copious number of years in the United States, with more shootings occurring than in any other nation. In fact, 80% of all firearm deaths recorded in the world are found to have occured in the U.S, a majority taking place in schools. Since the beginning of 2018, there have been eight instances in which students and teachers have fallen victim to the illegal guns utilized in the country.
The recent shooting in Parkland Florida can feel like it is just another number added to these unfortunate statistics. It is important, however, to notice the differences between this shooting and every other shooting of the past. This time the protests are not from parents, or lobbyists. It is from students across the nation, who have armed themselves with knowledge to convince their local politicians to overcome the influences of NRA lobbying, and create gun control legislation.
With social media playing an essential role in offering insight to just how devastating it is to experience a shooting in itself, students have decided that enough is enough. Brooklyn Tech students are some of the thousands of students from across the nation that joined the walkout on March 14th to protest the events in Parkland Florida and every school shooting that has come before to ensure that such an event never occurs again.
The most inspiring aspect of the Walkout is that it is an entirely student led movement. The use of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat is what made this organization possible and plays an essential role in highlighting just why the aftermath of the Parkland shooting feels so different from others. The administration of Brooklyn Tech was informed the students have been the real “doers” throughout this process and have given insight on certain events, such as the march to Borough Hall.
Initially, March 14th was just going to be a day where Tech students would walk out of their classes and hold 17 minutes of silence to honor the 17 Parkland victims who had lost their lives. But many students took it a step further as they felt 17 minutes were not enough. The students of Brooklyn Tech and several other schools in the area marched to Borough Hall pushing legislators for gun control laws.
When we asked Tech student Sadia Tasnim ‘20 how she felt about the addition of the march to Borough Hall, she told us, “It’s like a part 2, because 17 minutes of silence to honor the victims was part 1. But, now we have to implement actual change and at Borough Hall we can do that.” Borough Hall was a significant part of the walkout as it gave a voice to the students participating.
How is it possible for such action to be taken in such little time? It is clear that social media has played an especially critical role in the organization of the walkout.
We interviewed Mark Kabai ‘20, one of the students involved in managing the social media and advertising of the walkouts and he told us, “I think that social media is, in some aspects, more important than the protest itself…” He went on to explain that social media allows for a larger crowd to be drawn in. “I mean Facebook, it’s really been like the only tool that’s allowed us to attract… 1700 people”.
Mark also told us, “Our main goal is to get Congress to pass greater legislation on limiting the sales of assault rifles; we want Congress to pass the Background Check Expansion Act.” This movement is mainly about stricter gun control.
The truth is that the students of Tech and students from across the nation are the voices of change in this new age of politics. They are the next generation of voters and they are having their voices heard, more now than before.
When asked about what he hoped the March 14th walkout would accomplish, Alex Bavalsky ‘20, one of the leading student coordinators of the walkout, brought it to a national level, stating “We want congress to realize that kids care, students care, [and] this affects teachers. There are people dying that are not just abstract; it is not a philosophical idea, there are actual dead bodies”.
This is the kind of empathy and necessary energy which has, in many respects, revitalized the gun control movement.
The March 14th walkout isn’t the end of this movement, however. Today’s youth have been adamant about not allowing this cause to just become another hashtag. Just this past weekend on March 20th, people of all ages took to the streets of various big cities across the country to join in the March For Our Lives. In our interview with Mark, we inquired about any future plans on the fight against gun violence.
He informed us, “On April 20th, our plan is that if Congress does nothing by that time in regards to gun control, we are going to have a full school walkout. So, we’re gonna walk out for the whole day and not come back until the next day.”
The organization for the April 20th walk is still underway, however. Alex Bavalsky ‘20 has confirmed that this particular walkout will take place at Washington Square Park in Manhattan. Students will get up and leave the building at noon to make their way to the Park, not returning to school for the rest of the day. Much planning still needs to be implemented into gathering enough money for flyers, speakers, a stage, permits, the website, and other unanticipated expenses.
All the students involved in this movement have made it clear that this cause is not going to become just another hashtag. Despite the fact that they are “just children”, within the past couple weeks they have proven to be more. It is evident from the persistence of the students across the nation that the fight for stricter gun control is far from over.