By Kimberly Mayer
San Juan Island
This past year, I am always marching in one Washington or another. Most recently, in The March for Our Lives in Friday Harbor, Washington on March 24. Large or small, here or there, they are all important.
Friday Harbor Mayor Farhad Ghatan welcomed over 600 islanders of all ages before turning everything over to the middle and high school students standing like a chorus in bright orange T-shirts on the courthouse steps. This was, after all, their event, their cause and their day. A bright blue sky was behind them.
“To those who think we will not change the world: Just watch us.”
It’s been six weeks since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the “Never Again” movement that grew from it shows no signs of stopping. Instead, it only grows.
“What if our lives were more important than the rights of guns?”
When the Columbine High School shooting occurred in 1999, I planted columbine in my garden as a memorial. I’d thought the shooting a horrendous, one-time occurrence. We all wanted to believe that. Instead, our country went to the dark side, again and again and again. Even the NRA itself went dark.
“What if the government stopped taking money from the NRA?”
“We have grown up with this problem. We knew this stuff. It’s not like a new, fresh horrible thing that’s happening, it’s been preexisting even before we entered the world,” explains Jaclyn Corin, president of the junior class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in a recent article in The New Yorker.
Joining forces with her classmates at “Never Again,” Corin found herself within a few short weeks talking one-on-one to state representatives and addressing the state Legislature in Tallahassee, Florida. Advocacy, for her, has been part of the coping process.
“Never Again” broke the stigma that had hindered gun control activists in our country for decades. When it seemed impossible. When gun sales and gun fatalities were spiking, yet legislation was blocked. As we grew cynical and perhaps hardened, here came these kids — many of whom are too young to vote.
“Never Again” seized the moment and broke right through—reinvigorating every generation and swaying the public. (A Gallup poll on March 1 found 67 percent of Americans say the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made stricter. This is the highest in any Gallup survey since 1993).
Student-led and focused like a laser, they are the movement with a crowd that was bred online. “Never Again” is all about voices, votes, and policy change. In Friday Harbor, The League of Women Voters hosted a table to register voters during the march. This happened everywhere.
Our future is speaking and our future can’t get here fast enough. If I were a college or university I would recruit the founders of “Never Again” right out of high school. They are the wind of change and they are moving mountains.