In light of the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) shooting, many students at both MSD and other schools have taken action in trying to make a change. Political club members juniors Mark Kava and Shubhum Giroti took the initiative to organize a gun reform assembly, which took place in the Main Theater April 30 at 8 am, for seniors and some juniors.
Setting out with the desire to voice student concerns with legislation, Kava and Giroti found that arranging an assembly would be the best way to interact with legislators and hear their opinions.
“My main goal of the forum was to continue the conversation. It’s easy for people to forget the pain and sorrow they felt as time goes by. As the media coverage slowly dies out, as some legislators start to move on and as people’s’ desire to be the change slowly decreases, the potential to make a change is destroyed. I want to keep everyone passionate and to continue to pursue change,” Kava said.
Kava and Giroti first talked to Ms. Blum, who was receptive to the idea of hosting an assembly. She approved it, allowing them to set up a date for the assembly. They then put together a list of local Democrats and Republicans who they wanted to invite, calling and emailing each one of them. Three legislators accepted the invitation: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congressman Alcee Hastings and Congressman Ted Deutch. Kava also contacted two MSD students, Adam Buchwald and Zach Hibshman, who agreed to attend the assembly.
At the assembly, students listened to each speaker give their opinions and stories. Schultz spoke first, inciting her own life experience becoming the youngest female legislator in Florida’s history at age 26 to prove to students that they can make a change in their community.
Hastings stressed the importance of voting, stating that no matter what party someone registers as, they must vote for the candidate that supports the idea that assault weapons should only be in the possession of the military or police. He stated that change will only happen if students continue the movement going and push their legislators to do something.
“I want to assist in motivating young people. I believe the cohort between 18 through 25 has the ability to change not only gun violence issues, but will also provide better ethical behaviors of the people they lead,” Hastings said.
Deutsch reiterated Hastings’ message to register and pre-register to vote and the power that students hold to change gun laws.
Buchwald and Hibshman were then invited to take the stage, where they recounted their experience of the MSD shooting. After the shooting, Buchwald and Hibshman wanted to do something different than organizing marches and forums, so they founded Parents Promise to Kids (PPTK), an organization that encourages parents to sign a contract stating they will vote for “candidates who believe that the safety of children is much more important than guns.” These parents then post a picture of their family with the contract on social media to spread the movement. Hibshman ended the assembly with words of the importance of positivity and family.
“You never know what is going to happen on a certain day. We did not go to school thinking that kids would die or get shot at. You should always live life to the fullest, be positive and always tell your friends and family that you love them,” Hibshman said.