On February 14, 2018, a gunman shot and killed 17 people and wounded 14 more in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Like previous mass shootings, the gun violence in Parkland brought a brief, searing spotlight to the issue of gun safety. But as media attention began to fade amid a climate of political resignation, the teenaged survivors, still reeling, resolved to make theirs the last school shooting in America. One week after the shooting, 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School traveled to Tallahassee to lobby state lawmakers for stricter gun laws. Their plainspoken calls for action and fearless engagement of political opponents galvanized public interest and refocused national attention on the issue of gun safety.
Within a few short weeks of the tragedy that claimed the lives of 17 of their classmates, Parkland students joined with other youth gun activists to become the leaders of a national conversation about school shootings and gun safety in the United States. They identified a set of clearly defined, broadly supported policy goals; mobilized tens of thousands of their peers in a national school walkout; and conceived and led the March For Our Lives, one of the largest public demonstrations in American history. They led voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives throughout 2018, putting gun safety on the ballot and on the agenda in state houses, city councils, and school committees across the country. Their unprecedented advocacy has sparked a generational movement whose biggest impacts may be yet to come.