The Scarlet

No excuses: Teenagers cannot solve gun control on their own, and we should not expect them too.

Sarah Reinbrecht, Scarlet Staff

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One month after the mass school shooting in Parkland, FL, students across the nation walked out of their schools to protest gun violence and a lack of gun control in America. Despite facing disciplinary actions from their school’s administration, such as suspension, students made their voices heard by leaving their classrooms, making posters, and sharing their pursuits on social media. Many of their protests were influenced by the Parkland shooting, with many students leaving class for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 Parkland victims.

Regardless of how one feels about gun control, what these students did is commendable. They took advantage of their first amendment right, used social media to reach peers across the country, and took action for a cause they felt was important. This recent protest disproves the notion that Millennials and Generation Z are lazy, disengaged, and politically apathetic. Further, the students that participated are demonstrating empathy and reason, qualities that cannot be taken for granted.

Yet, as impressed and excited as I am for these students taking a stand when so few others will, I still feel uncertain that successful gun control will take place. High schoolers do not create legislation that will change how guns are bought and sold; our representatives do. And if the past is any indicator, our representatives won’t do much. Not only are they failing to take some kind of action, but the issue of gun control is fading yet again from the public mind. If it were not for the protests staged by students, gun control would cease to be discussed, and it would cease to be a priority for too many politicians — until the next shooting.

It should be recognized that many of the recent high school protesters are now of voting age, and they may vote many of the gun-loving politicians out. That is a real possibility, but there is also the tangible reality that young people, specifically young people in their late teens and 20s, vote the least. That could (and should) be changing, but until proven otherwise, young people’s political support is unreliable.

Further, not all young people are supportive of gun control. Many students did not participate in the walkouts, indicating that even if they do support gun control they are not interested in fighting for it. Additionally, some students spoke out against the walkouts and gun control, expressing their support of the second amendment and demonstrating that not all young people can be relied upon to vote consistently liberal.

So as commendable as these students are, how optimistic can our nation be that gun control will be implemented? I believe that the students who participated in the walkouts, and the students who work for the common good in other ways, will change our country. It is clear that as long as they recognize and maintain their power, there is hope for future. But this does not mean we can be complicit in thinking that gun violence, or any other issue, will simply be solved if enough kids protest. Everyone, regardless of age, needs to engage in political issues and vote in every election possible. Change takes time, and it seems that young people are doing a great job of initiating it, but we cannot stop there. Use young people’s actions as inspiration for your own political action, not as excuses to remain inactive.

Register to vote at vote.gov, find information about voting at usa.gov/register-to-vote, and find information about upcoming elections here and here.

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The student news site of Clark University
No excuses: Teenagers cannot solve gun control on their own, and we should not expect them too.