What has actually changed, one year since the Parkland shooting
Thousands of interviews, a massive march, and the emergence of an unprecedented youth movement are some of the responses to the fateful shooting at Marjory…
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For the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community in Parkland, Florida, Valentine's Day has taken on a completely different meaning.
Exactly one year ago, at 2:19 in the afternoon, Nikolás Cruz entered the school with an AR-15 rifle, and opened fire, taking the lives of 17 people, and changing the course of many more lives in the small southeastern Florida city.
In the wake of the mass shooting - one of many in what has become increasingly the norm in the U.S. - Stoneman Douglas students decided to say "enough is enough," as they spearheaded an aggressive nationwide campaign for common-sense gun reforms, one that appeared to gain more traction than similar efforts in the country's history.
A young woman with a shaved head, accompanied by a dozen classmates, took a microphone and told the country: "Since the time of our Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not."
This was Emma Gonzalez, her face proceeding to populate the front pages of major news outlets nationwide for the rest of the year.
She and her fellow students organized a "March for Our Lives", a campaign designed to raise awareness of the vote and threatened to change the direction of national politics.
The result of their efforts has been, simply put, bittersweet.
With the slogan "Never Again", Gonzalez and her colleagues changed the way in which gun control legislation is perceived; they questioned the Second Amendment; and they confronted the National Rifle Association about their multi-million dollar lobbying efforts in Washington.
The response from legislators, however, remains uncertain.
In response to the shooting, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a so-called "Red Flag Law", legislation that allows authorities to use "risk protection orders to confiscate weapons and ammunition for people with mental health problems."
Despite criticism from defenders of the Second Amendment, the law’s model has been copied by eight states and, in Florida alone, has enabled the confiscation of firearms from more than 500 people.
It’s the first time in years that the state's Republican-controlled government considered measures to address gun violence, as the Stoneman Douglas shooting, and the 2016 shooting that killed 49 at a gay nightclub in Orlando placed added pressure on prioritizing safety above money.
The state also passed a law that requires sets the minimum age to obtain a semiautomatic rifle at 21 years old, and prohibits ammunition mechanisms called "bump stocks".
However, the momentum of the "Never Again" movement appears to have waned since the 2018 midterm elections, taking a backseat to other issues politically.
At the federal level, affordable healthcare, immigration, and the proposed Green New Deal have almost completely overshadowed gun control, even though two dozen pro-firearms candidates were defeated in House races in the November elections.
After months of political inaction, the new Democratic majority in Congress celebrated the anniversary of the Parkland shooting with their first concrete step toward change. On Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee "approved two bills that would expand federal background checks for firearms purchases," Politico reported.
Even if the legislation can pass the House, it "stands virtually no chance in the Senate," as Politico adds, but it "makes good on Democrats’ promises to move swiftly to combat gun violence."
In other words, if Democrats learned anything over the past year - especially with the emergence of a new generation of legislators like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - it's that the country's true electoral strength lies with the youth vote, and young people want to see action on gun control.