"We Can't Vote, But You Can"
Cameron Kasky, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and a survivor of the country's latest mass shooting, has written a powerful op-ed via CNN Opinion blasting politicians for failing to keep guns out of schools.
Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, writes that he is demanding Americans take action and vote those in the back pockets of gun lobbyists out of office once and for all https://t.co/TPnglQzKEV via @CNNOpinion pic.twitter.com/020OZRMqeL
â€” CNN (@CNN) February 17, 2018
"I'm just a high school student, and I do not pretend to have all of the answers. However, even in my position, I can see that there is desperate need for change," writes Cameron Kasky, 17, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, via @CNNOpinion https://t.co/Fh7F7V2hoJ
â€” CNN (@CNN) February 16, 2018
"I thought it was going to be a wonderful day. My high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was full of cheerful students -- many of whom were celebrating Valentine's Day with one another," Kasky began. "Even those who didn't have a Valentine seemed like they could find reasons to smile. But then, of course, everything changed."
Kasky subsequently detailed how he went to pick up his little brother Holden from a special needs classroom, noting that as they exited the school, "the fire alarm went off. And as we retreated to the parking lot, per fire drill procedure, we were told to run back inside."
It was very confusing, especially since I was surrounded by special needs students. But the truth is, nobody really knew what was going on. We huddled in a room, listening to terrifying noises we couldn't quite identify, and spent an hour plagued by uncontrolled anxiety ... waiting for answers. Waiting for somebody to either come in and shoot us or come in and tell us everything was going to be OK.
Kasky advised that the SWAT team eventually came in "and did an excellent job taking care of the students with disabilities" before escorting them all to an evacuation location. "Though we made it home," he noted, "17 people didn't."
"We can't ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises. And so, I'm asking -- no, demanding -- we take action now," Kasky continued. "Why? Because at the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience -- our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools."
"But this time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account," he wrote. "This time we are going to pressure them to take action. This time we are going to force them to spend more energy protecting human lives than unborn fetuses."
Kasky named Florida Senator Marco Rubio specifically in his criticism of Republicans. "While the alleged shooter may have had several issues, he also lived in a society where Sen. Marco Rubio refuses to take responsibility for the role gun culture may have played in this tragedy," he wrote.
The 17 year-old student blamed "politicians on both sides of the aisle." Republicans for "[riling] up their base by making them think that 'liberals' are going to take their guns away," and taking "large donations from the NRA" - and Democrats for "[lacking] the organization and the votes to do anything about it."
"I'm just a high school student, and I do not pretend to have all of the answers," he advised. "However, even in my position, I can see that there is desperate need for change -- change that starts by folks showing up to the polls and voting all those individuals who are in the back pockets of gun lobbyists out of office."
"Please do it for me," Kasky concluded. "Do it for my fellow classmates. We can't vote, but you can, so make it count."
Kasky's piece follows his commentary to Anderson Cooper on Friday, in which he criticized Republicans for their thoughts and prayers while they protest over "a rainbow wedding cake." The very astute 17 year-old's full piece can - and should - be read here.