Activists demand accountability on the anniversary of the Parkland shooting

It’s been four years since a shooter killed 14 students and 3 staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And ever since, gun reform activists, survivors, and the students’ parents have continued to demand tangible gun reform from their representatives.

To honor this mission, the shooting’s anniversary, and pressure action from President Joe Biden, a coalition of activists have launched a new website, “Shock Market,” which tracks and shares the amount of gun-related injuries and deaths since Biden took office, according to CNN. The website is a live update of gun violence numbers across the country and reminder of the increasing rates of gun-related violence, especially in schools.

“Shock Market” was created by student gun reform group March For Our Lives, gun violence prevention group Guns Down America, and political youth advocacy organization Change the Ref.

The website displays a multitude of tallies sourced from the Gun Violence Archive, including the number of gun deaths, gun injuries, mass shootings, the specific number of minors killed and injured because of gun violence, and even unintentional shootings. Alongside the startling numbers, the gun reform coalition has listed its demands for the Biden administration, which include establishing a National Office of Gun Violence Prevention, investing in community violence prevention programs, and the appointment of a new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to regulate gun manufacturers and dealers.

In a statement about the website’s launch, March For Our Lives wrote that the coalition wants to ensure Biden lives up to his campaign promises. “What we are asking for is simple: That the President treats the gun violence epidemic like the emergency that it is, not a to-do list item to get to when he can,” the organization wrote.

The website encourages visitors to take action themselves, using a simple button to Tweet specific numbers directly to politicians. Recipients include Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, and even White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain. 

The numbers are paired with pre-written messages, like: “[email protected], the Shock Market is in desperate need of a correction. Please nominate a new ATF director to effectively regulate firearm manufacturers and dealers, and guide ongoing efforts to reduce trafficking. “

“Survivors and advocates have been clear that prioritizing gun violence prevention means establishing a national office of gun violence prevention to coordinate and proactively drive the government’s response to this public health crisis,” wrote Igor Volsky, co-founder and executive director of Guns Down America, in the website’s press release. “It means appointing a leader to the ATF who will not cozy up to the firearms industry. And it means using the full power of the presidency to fight for and win community violence intervention funding. We are still waiting.”

Not long after the website’s launch, Biden tweeted his recognition of the Parkland shooting and released an official statement, which called on Congress to act on the “epidemic of gun violence” and pass a budget for “proven strategies we know reduce violent crime — accountable community policing and community violence interventions.”

“We can never bring back those we’ve lost. But we can come together to fulfill the first responsibility of our government and our democracy: to keep each other safe. For Parkland, for all those we’ve lost, and for all those left behind, it is time to uphold that solemn obligation,” Biden wrote in the White House release.

Meanwhile, gun reform activists are calling out the Biden’s slow progress and demonstrating outside the White House in Washington, D.C. “Young people marched, we voted, we did what was asked of us. It’s time for the President to deliver for us,” said David Hogg, Parkland survivor and gun reform activist, in a statement to the press.

And parents and survivors are mourning their losses alongside them. Earlier in the morning, Manuel Oliver, father of former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Joaquin Oliver and founder of Change the Ref, demanded a meeting with Biden after climbing to the top of a construction crane. Oliver posted a video of his request in honor of his son.

Fred Guttenberg, father of former student Jaime Guttenberg and gun reform activist, also shared his own reflections and demands on the anniversary via Twitter, including a long list of “what if” questions that continue to rack his mind four years after his daughter died. “It is now 4 years since I last had the typical parental worries about you and how your day was going? What kinds of things you were learning?  Whether you were happy?  Whether you were safe?” he wrote in a Twitter thread. “What if you were sick that morning and we never sent you to school? What would your day have been like then?”

Using digital tools like “Shock Market” and social media, Parkland activists, families, and survivors have not let up on their cause, even as gun violence numbers continue to increase across the country. Instead, they’re demanding even more from government leaders and ensuring we never forget those who were killed.

Leave a Reply