This is not the post I planned to write.
For the last segment of my Women of Courage series, I planned to write a feel-good empowering piece about the girls. You know, our girls. The future. The girls of Generation Z.
I’ve got three Zs myself, and it’s the audience I write for when I write those nerd-girl books with smart protagonists and thinly veiled allegories about society-grappling-with-rapidly-changing technology.
But then, Parkland happened.
On February 14th, 2018, the United States endured yet another mass shooting. At a high school in Parkland, Florida, a former student charged into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School armed with an AR-15. Seventeen kids and teachers were killed.
In the US, we’re only too accustomed to how these things play out. For any NRA trolls, I’ve provided a Point/Counterpoint to save you the trouble of commenting, so you can get back to your target practice (see below).
On to the girls, those Parkland girls.
This time, contrary our typical pattern—the one where politicians offer ‘thoughts and prayers’, and tell everyone ‘it’s too soon’ to talk about common sense gun regulation—something different happened.
Those Parkland Girls and the Badass Girls of Generation Z
Three days after the tragedy, 17-year old Emma Gonzales wiped away tears as she lambasted do-nothing legislators at a gun control rally. Her impassioned speech went viral.
The Parkland kids weren’t backing down. They gave speeches, they did late night shows, they organized marches, they gave interviews. They launched a movement. They took crap from condescending conservative news hosts, they jousted with lawmakers at town hall meetings, they endured ridiculous fabrications.
“The right to bear arms … does not and never will overpower the individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”–Florence Yarad
These kids grew up in the dark shadow of Columbine. They grew up taking their shoes off to fly on airplanes and doing active shooter drills. They’ve seen seventy-one mass shootings in their lifetimes. All across the country, those kids rose up.
Smart kids. Savvy about social media, undaunted by trolls and bots. They know divisive memes won’t fix anything, so instead they went out and did things.
Girls like Florence Yarad, Parkland survivor who marched on the state capital and said, “The right to bear arms … does not and never will overpower the individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
They organized walkouts all over the country.
Girls like Demi Oo, a senior who participated in one of the walkouts in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who said, “Although participating in a walk out is a very basic and minimal choice of action, it paves the beginning of change. Even though students don’t have the power to change the way our society is on our own, we have and use our voice in hopes to be heard by those who can help us.”
“We are intelligent and we are resilient and we are brave, and we are willing to fight for what we believe in.”–Lane Murdoch
Within days of this storm of activism, the Oregon legislature passed a bill banning convicted domestic abusers and stalkers from buying or owning guns. The First National Bank of Omaha cut ties with the NRA. Enterprise, Symantec, MetLife, Best Western, Delta and United Airlines followed suit, and the list continues to grow.
Those kids said #NeverAgain. They organized a march on Washington DC occurring March 24th and nationwide school walkouts are slated for April 20th.
Girls like Carly Novell who slammed back at Tomi Lahren’s statement that ‘the gun massacre in Florida wasn’t about guns’ by tweeting back:
“I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours. It was about guns. You weren’t there, you don’t know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns.”
These girls know that even though the media magnifies discord, 97% of Americans support universal background checks and 83% are in favor of a mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases.
Girls like Lane Murdoch who started a national movement with Change.org that’s already 150,000 strong. “We are intelligent and we are resilient and we are brave, and we are willing to fight for what we believe in.”
Girls far removed from the stereotype of ‘don’t let the boys think you’re smart or you won’t be popular’ bullshit that has shaped female identity since time began.
Girls like Delaney Tarr, who appeared on The Opposition with Jordan Klepper and eviscerated NRA talking points.
Activist girls, standing up for what they believe in.
Six days after Gonzalez’s viral speech, and countless demonstrations later, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced he wants to make it “virtually impossible” for a dangerous person to get a gun and is crafting legislation to do just that.
Informed girls. Undiscouraged by our inability to fix the problem up to now.
“We’re going to make the world a better place” — Amanda Parsons
Girls like Amanda Parsons, a student who participated in a walkout in Iowa City, who said, “We’re going to save not only our generation, Generation Z, but the generations after us. We’re going to make the world a better place.”
And you know what? I believe it. They already are.
An NRA Troll Answers Your Country’s Questions About Gun Control #Satire
Q: Hi, as an international follower from [insert your country name here], I’m wondering, why don’t you just take everyone’s guns away?
A: We’ve got something called the Second Amendment.
Q: Okay, but I also thought you guys had an unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Doesn’t that conflict?
A: See Second Amendment. Those kids are too young to understand that.
Q: Don’t they have a right to free speech?
A: See Second Amendment.
Q: Okay, but isn’t the first part of a “Well regulated militia” regulation?
A: We’re giving our teachers guns. Shut up already.
Q: Yeah on that ‘giving the teachers gun’ thing. Isn’t the Second Amendment a ‘right’, and not an obligation?
A: Stop knowing our laws better than we do. Why do you hate our freedoms?
Q: Sorry, no offense meant. What I’m wondering is, even if you give your teachers guns—don’t you folks have shootings in malls, movie theatres, churches, concerts, etc.? How do you propose to prevent mass shootings in those places?
A: You can’t prevent all violence. It’s impossible.
Q: Yeah, but you can’t prevent all car accidents. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have licensing requirements–make people take a driving test, have laws regarding drunk driving, for example.
A: Please put your response in the form of a question.
Q: Okay. Well, regulations worked in [insert country name here], don’t you think it might work there?
A: What we have is a mental health problem, not a gun problem.
Q: Yeah but we have mentally ill people in [insert country name here]. We just don’t give them guns.
A: Please put your response in the form of a question.
Q: Okay, so I noticed you said the blame falls on bullying/violent movies/video games/social isolation/disintegration of the family unit. We also have those problems here in [insert country name here], so I’m wondering—
A: QUIT TRYING TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS.
Q: Excuse me?
A: People kill people! Crisis actor! Good guy with a gun! It’s too soon to talk about gun control! Guyana! The jackboots are coming to take our guns and steal our precious freedoms!