A Powerfully Articulate OpEd on Gun Control From a Parkland High School Student

emma gonzalez

The act of violence leaves us stunned; we hear of another mass shooting, the lives lost, the anger and brokenness behind an action so senseless and immediately the questions start filling in the gaps.

Although Darling is a platform primarily for conversations around and for women, sometimes conversations and events arise that become about all of us, and we need to address them. Right now is one of those moments.

It’s a heated subject, we understand. Gun control is rooted in an instinctual need for both liberty and protection, flanked by two sides that appear mutually-exclusive when politics is a zero-sum game.

But we don’t believe that’s the way to positive and civil discourse. Gun control reform been at stalemate for too long, with too many assumptions being made and calcifying any attempts at change.

We came across an opinion piece recently published on HarpersBAZAAR.com written by 18-year-old Parkland, Florida student Emma González. In it, Emma bravely and boldly personifies the rising tide of student activists refusing to let what happened at Stonemason Douglas High School normalize us — we all know that it shouldn’t.

We’re sharing an excerpt from Emma’s letter below in solidarity with those who likewise believe that gun control isn’t about winning or losing and it should never be a power play. Gun control reform must be about being willing to reach across the table, understanding that there are voices going unheard and that it’s time to find a solution, together.

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“If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels, and if you haven’t, then you cannot possibly imagine it,” wrote Lemony Snicket in The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events. There are people who do not know, and will never know, what it feels like to go through this. For that I am eternally thankful. But to the people out there who disagree with us: if you have ever felt what it’s like to deal with all of this, you would know we aren’t doing this for attention. If these funerals were for your friends, you would know this grief is real, not paid for. We are children who are being expected to act like adults, while the adults are proving themselves to behave like children.

When did children become such a dirty word? Adults are saying that children are lazy, meanwhile Jaclyn Corin organized an entire trip to Tallahassee, three busses stuffed with 100 kids and reporters who went to discuss our pitiful firearm legislation with the people who can—but won’t—do something about it.

We are children who are being expected to act like adults, while the adults are proving themselves to behave like children.

Adults are saying that children are emotional. I should hope so—some of our closest friends were taken before their time because of a senseless act of violence that should never have occurred. If we weren’t emotional, they would criticize us for that, as well. Adults are saying that children are disrespectful. But how can we respect people who don’t respect us? We have always been told that if we see something wrong, we need to speak up; but now that we are, all we’re getting is disrespect from the people who made the rules in the first place. Adults like us when we have strong test scores, but they hate us when we have strong opinions.

I’m constantly torn between being thankful for the endless opportunities to share my voice, and wishing I were a tree so that I’d never have had to deal with this in the first place. I’d like to think that it would be nice to be a tree.

Still, if I’m able to communicate one thing to adults, it would be this: it should not be easier to purchase a gun than it is to obtain a driver’s license, and military-grade weapons should not be accessible in civilian settings. You don’t drive a NASCAR on the street, no matter how fun it might be, just like you don’t need an AR-15 to protect yourself when walking home at night. No one does.

At the end of the day, we don’t want people to have their guns taken away. We just want the people to be more responsible. We want civilians to have to go through more rolls of red tape to get what they want, because if any of that tape can stop those who shouldn’t own a gun from owning a gun, then our government will have done something right. All we want to do is go back to school. But we want to know that when we walk onto campus, we won’t have to worry about the possibility of staring down the barrel of a gun. We want to fix this problem so it doesn’t occur again, but mostly we want people to forget about us once this is over. We want to go back to our lives and live them to the fullest in respect for the dead.

All we want to do is go back to school. But we want to know that when we walk onto campus, we won’t have to worry about the possibility of staring down the barrel of a gun.

Teachers do not need to be armed with guns to protect their classes, they need to be armed with a solid education in order to teach their classes. That’s the only thing that needs to be in their job description. People say metal detectors would help. Tell that to the kids who already have metal detectors at school and are still victims of gun violence. If you want to help arm the schools, arm them with school supplies, books, therapists, things they actually need and can make use of.

Read the rest of Emma’s piece in full here.

Feature Image via RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

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