Student Activism: The Fight for Gun Control

With an interview from Madeleine Bodiford, youth organizer of a gun control rally

February 21st rally at the Old Florida Capitol.

It’s been a few months since the Stoneman Douglas shooting. 

It’s been longer since Columbine. And it feels like nothing changed over the nineteen years between those two terrible school shootings. 

Things are changing now, however. Following the Stoneman Douglas shooting, student activism for gun control has taken hold of the nation at large. Rallies, marches, and walkouts have happened everywhere. There was a town hall in which Parkland students and families talked to Marco Rubio and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. The Stoneman Douglas high school students have become the faces of the gun control movement. The March for Our Lives drew hundreds of thousands of people to Washington, D.C. On April 20th, the nineteenth anniversary of Columbine, students called for a national school walkout for gun control.

On the same day, high school students in Tallahassee organized a gun control rally at the Florida capitol. 

The organizers were students Madeleine Bodiford, Ben Stults, Kara Gordon, Hope Pumphrey, Sami Riou, and Casey Epstein-Gross. All of them were enraged about the lives lost to shootings and the lack of American gun control, and wanted their voices heard and acknowledged. Like many others in the country, they wanted change and decided to take action.

The rally was held at the Florida Capitol, where a similar rally for gun control had taken place just a month prior. Some of the rally's organizers spoke, as did high school students Quiara Green, Reverend Mercer, FSU shooting survivor Ronny Ahmed, and Pulse shooting survivor Brandon Wolf.  The team had also been in contact with Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum during the week leading up to the rally, and he made a quick appearance to speak. The event was entirely student-led, with speakers stepping up to the podium to talk about issues of gun violence—the fear they felt in school, the Black Lives Matter movement’s long fight against gun violence, and ways to create change. A counter-protester at the rally held a misspelled sign that supported arming teachers. The student speakers addressed the man calmly and countered his thoughts respectfully. 

Ben Stults (left) with speaker Madeleine Bodiford.

Madeleine Bodiford with her father.

Most students are passionate about the issue of gun control but are not sure what actions to take. Organizing a rally or a march is not easy. It takes months of careful planning and hard work. This group did it all of it with much less time. Madeleine Bodiford, a 17-year-old high school senior, recounted the hectic week of planning and action leading up to the rally.

“We were emailing people, making flyers, doing interviews, and contacting speakers around the clock.” She suggested starting by getting involved in a community—contacting and getting together with students who are passionate about certain issues and are willing to take action. “Make a set plan with an end goal and follow through with it. Be prepared to work hard. Whether it be within your school, your community, or online, always do your research and don’t be afraid to be heard.”

Left to right: Ben Stults, Quiara Green, and Madeleine Bodiford with Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Already, progress is being made; representatives are realizing that our generation will not stand by and watch as more atrocities occur. These rallies, marches, and town halls are a way to show that we want change and will make it happen. They matter, and we have to show up and make them happen. We are leading this fight. 

Madeleine offered her words of encouragement and advice to students: “If you want to be more involved in your school or community, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid of attention. Let your voice be heard, because it is important... I love activism, and I’m so excited to get more involved and help make a positive difference in my community and our country. It’s so important nowadays for the youth to be heard. We are strong and intelligent, and we deserve to have our voices heard. We need to use our voices to help amplify those of minority communities who have been silenced for decades. Our generation has the drive and courage to make some really positive changes in this country, and we can’t give up now.”

By Hannah Yang

No comments

Post a Comment