It's video games. It's bullying. It's mental illness. It's isolation. It's "kids today." It's the byproduct of all those "participation trophies." It's parents refusing to spank their children. There's a seemingly never-ending list of potential reasons why systemic gun violence continues to plague our country, but, according to a staggering number of our elected officials, easy access to high-powered weapons isn't on the list. Enter: teenagers. Romper spoke to a number of students who attended the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 24, and asked them to share what they believe to be the most important step toward ending gun violence. If congress continues to fail to conjure up an answer, they only have to look as far as this nation's children.
On March 14, 2018, a staggering 7,000 pairs of children's shoes were placed on the Capitol Lawn, representing the number of children killed by guns since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Since that horrific day on Dec. 14, when 20 kindergarteners and six school staff were murdered by a 20-year-old with an AR-15, our elected officials have failed to pass common sense gun laws that could have prevented further tragedies. Like the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people lost their lives. Or the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people were killed. Or the shooting at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, where 58 people were murdered.
In the aftermath of each unspeakable tragedy, thoughts and prayers are often followed by solutions that rarely, if ever, include common sense gun laws. President Donald Trump blamed video games after the shooting in Parkland, and planned to "meet with representatives from the video game industry to discuss what they can do about real-life gun violence," according to NBC News. The president also purposed arming teachers as a reasonable solution to school shootings; a proposition the majority of Americans are against.
But the youth of this country — those who took time out of their Saturdays, and childhoods, to protest gun violence and call for common sense gun laws — have some ideas on how to end gun violence in this country. Here are just a few of their suggestions:
"We have to take small steps at a time. But I think raising the age limit is definitely a start."
"We have to increase the age limit and ban assault weapons. We all know that would decrease mass shooting and mass deaths. We also need universal background checks and we need to end the mental health stigma."
"By doing what we're doing now. We need to continue to get our message across. We need to let everyone know we're not going anywhere. We also need to pay attention to who we're putting in office. We need to increase the age [limit] and we need to ban weapons we don't need. Citizens don't need weapons made for the military and the police."
"Young kids shouldn't be able to have guns, period. I get that people are born in hunting environments, but kids under 21 shouldn't be able to even hold a gun."
"We need to support funding laws that assist with mental illness. We need change around it. We need change to help people, and give students who are in crisis the support hey need. We need therapeutic schools for people like me."
"My voice alone is not enough. We need more people to come join together, and do things like this today. This march is truly astonishing to me. We all have some sort of voice, and we all need to be heard. We can use our anger to fuel different ways of getting our voice out. Our anger is what motivates a lot of people to make change happen."
"Make sure we have no guns."
"Adults need to start listening to kids. They're probably thinking we're just kids and we don't have an impact, but they need to listen to the people who are speaking today."
"Have an age limit for guns and make some rules. People shouldn't be able to just go to the store and buy a gun"
"Help out more people who have mental illness."
"Ban assault weapons and military grade weapons."
"We need to make laws more strict and make sure not just anyone can have a gun."
"Vote them out.
I feel inspired. More people than I expected turned out, so even if you are younger than 18 and not able to vote, you are still part of the American population and you need to be heard. If legislators aren't going to take us seriously, then we aren't going to keep them in office."