David Hogg practices his kick-flip in between Harvard classes and his efforts promote a common understanding regarding the prevention of gun violence. In Los Angeles, Cameron Kasky devotes himself to comedy and writing because he is dissatisfied with the dysfunctional American political system. Sari Kaufman manages her political science coursework at Yale while flying to protests against the gun industry across the nation.
Three survivors who were at the forefront of the March For Our Lives movement in 2018 spoke with the Associated Press about their lives today and what they want Americans to know as the country reflects on the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, nearly five years after a gunman killed 17 of their classmates and teachers there on Valentine’s Day.
Every day, Kaufman said, “I’m still experiencing the effects of the shooting.”
We are not as separated as we would like to believe
When Hogg, a senior at the time, heard gunshots in his AP Environmental Science class, he ran for cover in a closet with other classmates and captured the incident on his phone.
Soon after, he assisted in organizing the massive student-led protest known as March for Our Lives, made an appearance on national television and on the cover of TIME, and co-wrote the book “#NeverAgain” with his sister. After graduating, according to Hogg, he plans to work on other projects.
Hogg has nonetheless made an effort to have a “regular” life and take pleasure in his remaining college months. Hogg, who is now 22 years old, is majoring in politics and history.
He’s been in therapy for a long time. He has battled fatigue and survivor’s remorse. Dinners with pals and the Harvard Skateboarding Club help him to relax.
Despite everything that has transpired, Hogg said, “seeing friendship and joy as a sort of resistance has been incredibly vital to my healing.”
Hogg stays in touch with his Parkland pals as well as other activists across the nation who share his views. He has been able to endure mockery from well-known individuals, such as Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham and Republican Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, by leaning on that support network.
Additionally, he has received “really nasty remarks” from random Twitter users. Hogg claimed that he’s had numerous private internet conversations with individuals and discovered points of commonality.
The things that have made me happy, he continued, “are those minor conversations I’ve had with certainly hundreds, maybe thousands, of people at this point.” We aren’t as divided as we like to imagine we are, which gives me hope.
Hogg, who was born in 2000, a year after the Columbine school shooting, said he wants to change the way people talk about preventing gun violence by “creating consensus instead of disputing it as we have done for my whole life.”
What steps have been taken to prevent school shootings?
When the fire alarm went off, Kasky had just finished theatre class and was on his way to pick up his younger brother from a different classroom. The two fled outside, were told to return inside, and spent more than an hour huddling in a classroom.
Kasky, who is now 22 years old, works as a producer for theater, TV, and movies. He continues to talk about gun violence in conversations with the media and online. He feels that American politics are “stuck between a fascist party and a party that is highly subservient to corporate interests,” but he is generally dissatisfied with the way that things are going in the country.
When Kasky was younger, he observed how he and his pals were able to inspire Americans. He was 17 years old when they took a tour bus throughout the nation, meeting many people and helping them register to vote. They collaborated to plan one million-person march in Washington, D.C.
Following the terrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, those who had previously given up hope of bringing about change suddenly began to have faith. He now reflects on the acquaintances he made on that tour.
What should I say if I run into these individuals again, he wondered.
According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, there have been over 900 shootings at K–12 schools since Parkland, including 32 indiscriminate assaults intended to harm as many people as possible. According to lead researcher David Riedman, shootings on school grounds have grown as enormous sums of money are being spent to make schools safer.
Kasky observed as news of a former pupil’s murder of 19 pupils and two instructors at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, spread in May. Armed police didn’t enter, just as in Parkland, he claimed. He worries that Americans no longer have the “bandwidth” to mobilize in response to school shootings.
“Any gun control organization can speak about its successes and print out a list of them, but what has been done to prevent school shootings?” said he.
Why then did he choose comedy?
“It’s difficult not to want to mimic everything you ever see when you meet certain members of Congress and stare them in the eye.”
“We can build on that momentum”
Sari Kaufman, a sophomore at the time and 15 years old, was in debate class and failed to quickly identify what would later be identified as gunfire.
She watched senators pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most major federal gun safety policy in three decades while sitting in the U.S. Senate gallery with other survivors last summer. She worked as an intern for Connecticut senator Chris Murphy.
Although the outcome wasn’t exactly what we had hoped for, Kaufman said, “for me, it was a great moment… seeing that our hard work did pay off and that we can use it as momentum to show that we can persuade Republicans to support some of these measures.”
At Yale University, where she is a junior studying political science, 20-year-old Kaufman recently founded a branch of Students Demand Action, a student advocacy organization affiliated with Everytown for Gun Safety. She intends to work in politics or policy.
Kaufman desires to exert financial pressure on the gun industry. She and other activists demonstrated last month in Las Vegas during one of the biggest trade fairs for the firearms industry in the country.
As someone who constantly considers her friends who were slain, Kaufman said, “We were trying to make these gun CEOs know that the work they’re doing isn’t simply to make a profit and grow their stock, but it’s leading to more fatalities and tragedies like Parkland.”
Kaufman claimed that she overhears her peers discussing mass shootings in school every time there is another one. She worries that shootings have grown commonplace and tolerated.
She won’t agree to that.
Politicians will deliberately try to drive a gulf between Americans on this topic because it’s good politics for them, according to Kaufman. “There’s lot more compromise and common ground in gun violence than people admit,” Kaufman added. “More and more people need to band together.”
After the tragedy, the surviving kids and their families became well-known advocates for gun regulation and school safety measures
One of the deadliest school shootings in US history was the Parkland incident. The surviving students and their families went on to become well-known activists for gun control and school safety measures after the catastrophe. The tragedy sparked several state and federal legislative changes, including the adoption of Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which raised the legal buying age for firearms, instituted waiting periods and background checks and permitted some school personnel to carry weapons.