America strives for reform after Parkland shooting


PROTESTS FOR PROGRESS: A protester holds a sign in downtown Atlanta during the March For Our Lives walkout on Mar. 24, 2018.


The school shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14 that left 17 students and school staff dead has sparked demands for change in gun laws by companies, organizations, students and adults across the nation.

Businesses have taken a stance on the growing issue of gun violence, and citizens have participated in protests and walkouts, pleading the government to pass stricter gun control laws.

“Policies and laws have changed in Florida [since the Parkland shooting],” Mario Herrera, English teacher and debate coach, said. “The White House and Congress are working on a plan to make schools safer. I think that’s good. It’s supposed to take a minute because there’s so many different perceptions and ideas about problems.”

Students are not the only ones to take action following the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. One company taking a stance since the shooting  is Atlanta-based Delta Airlines.

The airline chose to end it’s affiliation with the National Rifle Association. In a memo to all Delta employees, CEO Ed Bastian said Delta has stopped giving NRA members discounts and asked the NRA to remove Delta’s name and logo from its website.

“This decision followed the NRA’s controversial statements after the recent school shootings in Florida,” Bastian said in the memo. “Our discounted travel benefit for NRA members could be seen as Delta implicitly endorsing the NRA. That is not the case.”

Delta is not the only company that has cut ties with the NRA. Companies such as United Airlines, car rental companies Enterprise Holdings and Hertz and Metlife Insurance a have also ended discounts for NRA members.

“I think that [companies] are being much more direct,” Herrera said. “It’s been quick, also — Dick’s Sporting Goods, Delta, Walmart — they have made their position very clear, and companies get to do that.”

Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods raised the age of gun buyers to 21. Walmart also announced it would stop selling toys that resemble assault weapons, and Dick’s stopped selling assault rifles altogether.

“I think companies are supporting this because they realize that citizens seem to be wanting more gun control, so they’ll get more support and business if they stop selling guns,” said junior Lily Muscarella, one of the speakers at Grady’s walkout on March 14. “I also think it’s become an issue of ethics and morals for companies. We are finally forcing them to choose between semi-automatic weapons and the lives of their consumers, which I think is an integral part of this movement.”

On Mar. 6, a bill titled  the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act,” which raised the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21, along with other measures to limit gun violence, was approved Florida senators. Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed it in law three days later.

Anger and passion from youth nationwide is a major push behind the movement for stricter gun laws. Teenagers are becoming more vocal while leading others to do the same. Thousands of students left class on Mar. 14 to demand gun control, exactly one month after the Parkland school shooting.

Grady students gathered on the football field to hear speeches from peers and march around the track in protest. The organization behind the National Walkout is the Women’s March Youth Empower, whose goal is to equip students to make positive changes in their communities.

“What’s different this time is that you have a group of individuals who were passionate and articulate and youthful,” Herrera said. “Image has played a role in keeping things motivated. The second major thing is I think that they planned well. The organization behind it is fantastic.”

The call for change won’t end with the walkout on Mar. 14. Students are determined to keep this at the front of people’s minds until real change regarding guns is made. The March for Our Lives was on Mar. 24 and there is another walkout planned for Apr. 20.

“We need to keep this relevant,” Muscarella said. “I know we are kids and get distracted easily, but I really hope everyone keeps this in their thoughts so we can continue to fight, march and demand protection and gun control.”