Parkland Students Take Action Against Gun Violence With Sweeping Legislation Proposal
Weeks after horrific mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas left more than 30 people dead in less than 24 hours, the survivors and student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre have taken a proactive stand against gun violence. On Wednesday, the Parkland students that created March for Our Lives unveiled a plan to end gun violence, which the group says could potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives. What's more, 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke has already publicly endorsed it.
"Gun violence is destroying our generation," March for Our Lives, the group of student activists that gathered together following the Parkland shooting to form a movement, wrote of their gun violence prevention plan. "This is simply unacceptable. That’s why, as survivors and students of March For Our Lives, we believe it’s time for a Peace Plan for a Safer America."
And on Aug. 21, the youth activists unveiled their proposal, which is thorough, detailed, and ambitious, though it will certainly face criticism and opposition from gun lobby groups. Immediately, though, it's surely sparked a conversation highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive gun violence prevention measures, as NPR reported that there's concern that President Donald Trump "lost interest in the matter."
But these young activists and other gun violence advocates certainly have not. The Peace Plan for a Safer America is comprised of six comprehensive points, as NBC News reported. As detailed on the March for Our Lives website, those points are as follows:
- Change the standards of gun ownership: The group proposes that lawmakers not only advocate for but actually pass legislation that would "raise the national standard for gun ownership." This point also includes a proposed ban on weapons of war, such as assault rifles, as well as "a national gun buy-back program."
- Halve the rate of gun deaths in 10 years: The proposal wants lawmakers on the federal level to "declare a national emergency around gun violence," according to March for Our Lives, and for legislators to make it a goal "to reduce gun injuries and deaths by 50 [percent] in 10 years, thereby saving up to 200,000 American lives."
- Accountability for the gun lobby and industry: March for Our Lives wants the government to hold gun rights groups, like the NRA, accountable and to launch investigations into their practices. Within this point, the group also calls for the the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act — a law that passed in 2005, which provides "broad immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers in federal and state court," according to the Giffords Law Center — to be repealed.
- Name a director of gun violence prevention: The group wants lawmakers to create a new position that would report to the president, called National Director of Gun Violence Prevention.
- Generate community-based solutions: March for Our Lives wants the government to "fully fund" prevention programs on the local level that address "the intersectional dimensions of gun violence," such as mental health services and police violence.
- Empower the next generation: The final point of the group's plan aims to get the nation's younger generations involved in politics. March for Our Lives proposes that all Americans be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18 and for the government to create "Safety Corps," which the group says is essentially "a Peace Corps for gun violence prevention."
The proposal has already gotten O’Rourke's support. On Wednesday, the presidential hopeful wrote on Twitter, "Following the lead of the students marching for their lives, and for all of ours, we will end this epidemic. I support their Peace Plan For A Safer America — and I call on everyone else in this race to do the same."
In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper to discuss the plan, David Hogg — a Parkland shooting survivor, gun safety activist, and one of the founders of March for Our Lives — explained why comprehensive action is so important and actually needs to be acted on. It's been almost a month since the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, and Trump has yet to discuss his plan of action to curb such senseless acts of violence.
Hogg told Cooper that he wants Trump to prove he's "not controlled by the NRA... When you go back and forth and you get caught up in that debates, that shows how you think politics is a game, but when people think politics is a game, people die."
So far in 2019, there have been more than 250 mass shootings in the United States, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, so it's clear that sweeping changes are needed to change these startling statistics.