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Student power

New York Teacher

In the immediate aftermath of the Florida school shooting on Feb. 14 that took 17 lives, many people were shocked and tearful — and resigned to nothing changing with respect to gun laws.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in 2012 that took the lives of 20 children and six staff members, there have been 239 school shootings nationwide, in which 438 people were shot and 138 were killed, according to The New York Times. It’s an astonishing number that has numbed many people.

Many expected the standard script to unfold this time, too: Stuffed animals, candles, flowers and balloons would mark the site of the latest attack. Anguished essays and letters would circulate in the media. The NRA would continue its stranglehold on the gun debate. And then we would all move on, as we always had.

If 1st-graders dying in a Connecticut school building didn’t lead to stronger gun control, what could?

But the grieving students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Florida, had other ideas. Many have stepped up to the microphones at rallies and news conferences and, through tears, sounded a clarion call for gun control. On Feb. 20, Parkland students traveled 400 miles to their state capital in Tallahassee to demand change from their state legislators, who had legalized concealed carry of firearms and passed Stand Your Ground legislation that allows armed individuals who believe they are in danger to use deadly force. The students also have organized a March for Our Lives on March 24 for Washington, D.C., and other cities, which the UFT is supporting.

“We have a real problem in this country when children must advocate for their safety because some elected officials in Washington won’t,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.

These student activists are not backing off. They are on the right side of history.

We stand with the students in the fight to win stronger gun laws that protect everyone.