The Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is a tragedy that would change the point of view of the gun policy as it constitutes in the state of Florida. The events that unfolded would not only change the course of how firearms policies are seen over the United States but also the consideration and implication that the underage and persons with mental illness can acquire firearms would be reformed after the events taken place on February 14, 2018. A gunman opened fire and killed over 14 students and 3 faculty members while also injuring over 17 other people, thus causing various rallies and modification of state laws.
Emma Gonzalez was one of the teens outspoken about the events and how it inflicted both psychological and socio-political trauma that would later draw attention to the legislature as the bill (Chapter 2018-3, L.O.F.) would then comprehensively address the crisis of gun violence but also not just limiting it to the gun violence found in Americas school system.
The Legislature finally evaluated this through political reform addressed by sociological crisis of support groups spear-headed by Emma Gonzalez. Her group advocated that firearm reform should take into consideration that both law enforcement and judicial system needed to enhance public safety. Also, by implementing temporarily restriction of the acquisition of firearms by individuals whom are currently in mental health crisis, evidenced in either past or present history of violent acts and threats to school safety.
The core values are presented under the coordination between the educational system and law enforcement entities presented in state and local level would establish a bill CS/ SB 7026 Public Safety that would be approved by the Governor and take effect on March 9, 2018 to protect and avoid further events taken place such of that suffered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Florida Senate, 2018).
Through the activism of Emma Gonzalez, March For Our Lives: Road To Change, she empowered the voice of the victims and families of those who suffered through this tragedy event and placed a halt in NRA (National Riffle Association) participating towns to have civil forums with gun-lovers, advocating that they do not want to cease gun ownership, but to establish civil regulations to prevent further gun violence. The capacity to reunite and create a coalition of people who are resilient and wish to avoid further tragedy such as the one that was seen at the school. People were gathered to address the legalization of gun permits and usage, thus reinforcing the individuals capacity based on their mental state of being, age and the legal process to acquire a gun. The importance of considering the mental state helps determine the individual psychological needs and the level of risk that this person may cause unto others. The implications that was foreseen within the school caused support groups that would continue on even through these days. As there have been survivors who continue to suffer from psychological disorder such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and have also committed suicide. That is why it is important to sustain the essence of resilience, support groups, medical and psychological treatments for the survivors and families that were impacted.
We picked the atrocious and horrifying gun shooting incident at Marjory Stoneman High School in Florida and Emma Gonzalez as our leader which serves as an eye opener to the society regarding the political inaction towards gun control in the United States. Emma is an 18-year-old feisty, bisexual Cuban American and a daughter of a cyber security lawyer and math teacher who migrated to United States in 1960s (Chaves & Ahmed, 2018). She was born to become a leader. Even at the outset she has been fighting for equality, she became a president of gay-straight alliance in her high school for three consecutive years. In addition, Emma was also academically inclined and involved in creative writing and astronomy wherein she was the tracking team leader of Project Aquila which aimed at sending a balloon to outer space (Thefamouspeople.com, 2018).
On February 2018 after the vicious attack on their school which led to a loss of 17 souls and 17 wounded, the incident serves as an impetus for Emma to stand up in behalf of her friends, faculties as well to as the families who grieved for the loss of their love ones to fight for what is right and what is necessary to curb unlawful gun acquisition. Her voice and unabated protest resonated to the nation that raised total awareness to the public about the contentious issues regarding gun control policies. As a result, she became an embodiment of truth that relentlessly hounded the political leaders to act and pass a law which was named Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act which required a more stringent policy regarding the firearm purchase which is not only beneficial but highly paramount to eradicate gun violence.
Emma Gonzalez portrays transformational style of leadership as evidence by being eloquent in setting her goals and remained committed to it, through these she was able to inspire and motivate the nation with her vision to work together and challenge the current situation of the government in order to promote change and safety. Courage is the main core that propels Emma to emerge as an active gun control activist to stand for the people and fight for what she believes is right so that the politicians will be enlightened. Her voice and ideation were truly amazing that captivated millions of people to unite and participate in her campaign March For Our lives that served as a protest by young students that pushed the government to acknowledge their accountability to what happen (Kramer & Harlan, 2019). Also, she firmly believes that through her actions the perennial problems on gun violence that continually plague the society will be lessened as well as the fear which is lurking in the minds of people in the community will be diminished. Emma profoundly committed to fight for gun and school safety reform because she believes it is necessary and a priority that every child and citizen must be free from any harm and by not amending the law on gun policies it will be tantamount to violence that again may result to the same tumultuous shooting spree in Parkland, Florida. In addition, her protest on the government is not solely for one main reason it also exemplifies the importance of public awareness and education on responsible gun ownership. Despite the unimaginable incident and trauma that Emma Gonzalez has gone through she remained optimistic for her battles to make a difference in the lives of American people amid the fact that she was criticized, and her character was impugned by some politicians that what she was protesting for the sole purpose of publicity and to gain popularity. But instead she took all the negative words as a challenge to prove that what she was doing is extremely crucial to help the society realize that the government should create a stringent law on gun control that will ultimately foster a gun free and safe community.
There are no consequences for us to speak our mind, Gonzalez says. The country was built for us to share our opinions and to vote our conscience and to get our opinions and decisions heard. So, thats what were going to do. This Florida high school student has been a role model since serving as president of her schools gay-straight alliance, where she first practiced her leadership skills in LGBT rights movements. Now she is one of the prominent faces of the youth fighting against gun violence. It all began in her friend, Cameron Kaskys living room, wherein hours after the attack and filled with grief but fueled by anger, these teenagers got to work, armed with their phones (Alfonsi, 2019). In an interview with CBS News, they recalled how they first set off a firestorm of tweets, aimed at lawmakers. Saying yes to almost every interview request and used social media to their advantage to organize student-led protests. Due to Gonzalez efforts, as well as her friends, they convinced Floridas Republican Governor Rick Scott to defy the National Rifle Association, something that hasn’t happened in Florida in 20 years. According to Kouzes & Posner, leaders who model the way must seek their own voice and clearly give action to their values, this is something that Gonzalez shows just days after the attack, she and her friends took the battle to modern age social media and engaged others with common aspirations to spark change.
In Kouzes & Posners The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Article, they stated that leaders who inspire a shared vision are driven by their clear image of possibility and what their organization could become. Emma Gonzalez exemplified this practice by organizing and spearheading the demonstration called March for Our Lives. They used the hashtag #NeverAgain as she and her friends who survived the fatal February 14 shooting marched in Washington state just a month after the incident. According to the petition on the events website, March for Our Lives has three primary demands: 1. Pass a law to ban the assault weapons frequently used to carry out mass shootings. 2. Stop the sale of high-capacity magazines, restricting the amount of ammunition. 3. Close loopholes in America’s background checks and implement laws that require background checks on every gun purchase, including those that occur online or at gun shows. What touched the hearts and minds of most of those in attendance was that Emma Gonzalez stood on stage for 6 minutes in 20 seconds in silence, with tears streaming down her face. “Since the time that I came out here,” she said, “it has been 6 minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape and walk free for an hour before arrest.” She has inspired many people both young and old of the effects of gun violence and too lenient gun laws. Her shared vision has since inspired as many as 800 sister marches across the United States, and overseas including London, Madrid, Paris, Tokyo and Seoul (March for Our Lives, 2018).
Perhaps one of the most fearless actions a victim of a mass shooting could do is take their anger and grief and channel it into something that will benefit others. Emma Gonzalez was soon trending on Twitter weeks after the fatal attack on her high school for stirring a controversy that many people would never dare fight against. She gave a passionate speech at an anti-gun rally, wherein she took on President Trump, the National Rifle Association, politicians and every argument against tightening gun laws, she got the crowd of hundreds to start chanting shame on you! at the rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Hayes, 2018). Whats different about this rally now was that it was students and teenagers that were leading the charge, although the debate was familiar, it was striking to see the youth become such a powerful voice. Christal Hayes of USA Today said in a 2018 article that Emma’s speech caused a firestorm at the rally and on social media, many calling her a hero and a new leader in the fight against gun violence. In Gonzalez speech that day she proclaimed We are going to be the last mass shooting, and in between tears she called out Trump for taking millions from the NRA for his presidential campaign. The NRA pumped more than $31 million into advertising to boost Trump’s candidacy and attack his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton (Hayes, 2018). Gonzalez once again got the crowds participation in shouting We call B.S.! after each argument. CNN political contributor Joan Walsh proclaimed on Twitter that Gonzales was a hero by calling out Trump and the NRA at the rally and that there were a few uncomfortable adults on the stage. The most hard-hitting action that Emma Gonzalez did to challenge these authoritative figures was to go up against NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch at CNNs town hall event just weeks after the shooting incident. Filled with determination and armed with some on point questions, Gonzalez and her fellow high school classmates traded heated statements with the 40-year-old on stage for all the world to see. Her opening question was intense and straight to the point, she asked The shooter at our school obtained weapons that he used on us legally. Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic and weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic like bump stocks? Loesch answered by beating around the bush but ultimately said that it is not federally required for states to report people who are prohibited possessors and that this was the biggest problem and that states should report these people so that they cannot purchase firearms. This was met by jeers from the crowd and Gonzalez reiterated her question once again. The debate showed that Gonzalez is able to lead young people and express their views on political issues like gun control legislation by challenging people of authority in daring ways.
According to Gonzalez in 2018, you might not be a big fan of politics, but you can still participate. In a world where people often say I dont play the politics game, I dont pay attention to politics, we are all so affected one way or the other. Collaboration is the master skill that enables teams, partnerships, and other alliances to function effectively (Kouzes & Posner, 2013). Good leaders engage all those who must make the project work and, in some way, all those who must live with the results. Gonzalez paints a picture of America wherein she says that the environment is getting poisoned, families are getting pulled apart and deported, prisons are privatized, real-life Nazis live happily among us, Native Americans are so disenfranchised our country is basically still colonizing them, Puerto Rico has been abandoned, the American education system has been turned into a business, and every day 96 people get shot and killed. She encourages others, young and old to vote for the people you believe will work on these issues and if they dont work the way they should, then it is your responsibility to call them, organize a town hall and demand that they show up and to hold these politicians accountable. In an interview with Variety, Gonzalez wears a cropped, sleeveless t-shirt with a QR code that when scanned enables her to register people to vote in less than two minutes. She says in this interview that there will be a major impact if the four million kids that turned 18 in the past year can get registered to vote in time for the midterms.
?According to Turkewitz, Stevens, and Bailey (2018), just a few days after surviving a mass shooting, Emma Gonzalez led an emotional rally to demand for tougher gun laws that led some to criticize students for raising their voices instead of taking their time to grieve. She said this was the way she has to grieve, by making sure that everybody knows that tragedies like this isnt something that is allowed to happen. It was emotionally challenging enough for Emma to speak publicly while grieving but it did not stop her from delivering a powerful speech that captivated many. Emma was encouraged to speak by the supportive people in her community, especially those who do not have the courage to talk publicly yet. An even bigger challenge Emma had to face, or she is still facing is the constant criticism regarding her age and her roots. According to Habib (2018), in a country like America which has been divided by an administration that targets immigrants, and the fact that a teenager with Spanish roost led a revolution against the government of the said country, is not an issue we could easily ignore. Questions and doubts arose if a young woman and some other kids will be able to bring about change, saying they are getting involved in adult affairs. In revolt, Emma stated, When did children become such a dirty word? Adults are saying that children are lazy. and then referred to the coordination of her classmates in response to the tragedy. Also, in her essay for Harpers Bazaar, she addressed the adults criticisms and wrote, “We are children who are being expected to act like adults, while the adults are proving themselves to behave like children.” (Schmidt, 2018). For her, the stubbornness of politicians and the people that kept attacking her is just another reason to keep fighting for change. Another challenge for Emma and her friends were the counter-protests of gun supporters. According to the demonstrators that emerged in different states and cities, more guns, not fewer, is the solution to the violence that is happening across America (Turkewitz, 2018). Emma and her group did not go directly up against the counterdemonstrators that rally like them, but they continued to go up against the lawmakers and the countrys largest non-profit organization that advocates for gun rights, the National Rifle Association. Emma acknowledged that she was deathly afraid of them, but she also knows that this isnt something that they will ever give up on (Gonzalez, 2018).
?Emma Gonzalez has been an agent for change even before the shooting happened as she was the president of her schools Gay-Straight Alliance for years, but it was after this tragedy which caused the death of her friends and teachers to propel her activism. By taking a leadership role and becoming the face of the Never Again Movement, this young woman is empowering the youth all over the world to support several causes and create change through activism. According to Morales (2018), Emma signifies a new generation that shows potential to be major political players with their ability to deal with different constituencies and create a powerful message for change.
Emma, together with her group, made an impact that urged a million people especially the youth, to join them in their movement. Gonzalez had no Twitter account before the shooting but has now surpassed the number of NRA followers in just less than two weeks. Several polls showed that the support for stricter gun laws have gone up in a point higher than in the last few years and for the first time in almost two decades, the National Rifle Associations public support went downhill. Their movement received numerous help such as support from other activist groups and other youth campaigns and raised millions of dollars from small donors to famous celebrities. And in less than a month from the tragedy, March 9, 2018 became another date to remember as Florida passed a bill that banned bump stocks, imposed a waiting period, raised the minimum age on buying a weapon and allowed cops to take guns from people who are mentally disturbed (Alter, 2018).