A teenage boy walked into the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14 and opened fire, killing 17 people. While this is not the first or deadliest school shooting, it has had an effect on American society that other mass shootings haven’t.
Since the shooting took place, a group of students has banded together to push for stronger gun control in our country. Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old who attends Stoneman Douglas, has been one of the leaders in this fight. During a town hall hosted by CNN, Kasky stood up in front of Florida Senator Marco Rubio and asked, “In the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?” Although Kasky was unsuccessful in getting Rubio to separate from the National Rifle Association (NRA), many businesses and organizations have ended their relationships with the organization, including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, MetLife, and Starkey Hearing Technologies.
It is interesting to see how quickly public interest can change a company’s decision. On Saturday, Feb. 24, I sat in a hotel in Dallas, surrounded by presidents of Delta Zeta sorority chapters like myself. The Starkey Hearing Foundation is our national philanthropy, and a representative was getting ready to give a speech. Suddenly the room began to stir, as women saw on their phones that one of Starkey’s donors was in the NRA. Within fifteen minutes, Starkey tweeted, “We have made the decision not to renew our discount program with the NRA. We will be asking them to remove our information from their website. Our focus remains on bringing better hearing to people around the world in partnership with hearing professionals.”
Although it is great to see so many companies beginning to take a stance and make a strong push in our society to strengthen gun control policies, I have to question: why now? Why did this school shooting do it?
On Feb. 28, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that they would stop selling assault rifles and would raise the age limit to 21. In an interview with Good Morning America, CEO Edward Stack said, “We were so disturbed and saddened by what happened, we felt we really needed to do something.” Why does this school shooting disturb you? Why didn’t it disturb you to learn kindergarteners were killed in 2012, long before this happened?
It’s admirable that so many companies are finally doing something, but it also seems like a chance for some good PR. It should not have taken another school shooting and teenage kids fighting for change for companies to begin to listen.
So many people say “our generation will do great things,” and although that feels promising, I have also come to realize that our generation must do great things because the generation before us doesn’t seem to want the responsibility, so we have to create change for ourselves.
On March 24, the March for Our Lives will take place in Washington, DC. I hope to see a large turnout from not only our generation, but also from the generations we look to for support, because it’s time we all get together and get something done.