Paris Alston: This weekend, hundreds of thousands of youth all across the nation will take to the streets to participate in the March for Our Lives and demand action on gun reform. The event comes two weeks after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults. In light of tomorrow’s event, I connected with several young people from Greater Boston to hear their thoughts on gun violence and their questions for the people with power to make a change.
Amina McDowell, sophomore at Boston Latin Academy: What is it going to take for there to be like a change? I just want to know, like a specific event, like what needs to happen.
AJ Green, senior at Boston Latin Academy: When is the government going to show that they actually care about the people in the country and their well-being?
Jaylin Gemmel, co-organizer for Boston March for Our Lives and a rising sophomore at Framingham State University: Why are you so against universal background checks?
Khandace Wilkerson, senior at Boston Latin Academy: What would you do if one of your kids were a victim of gun violence?
Alexis Hoilett, senior at Boston Latin Academy: How important is a gun when parents are burying their children?
Justin Meszler, co-organizer for Boston March for Our Lives and a rising senior at Brown University: We are the school shooting generation.
McDowell: Every single year, like every single grade, I’ve had to have a talk with a teacher about school shootings and how they affect us. That’s honestly crazy how it’s just a part of our school curriculum.
“We are the school shooting generation.”
Wilkerson: We’re very desensitized to gun violence, especially when it pertains to school shootings.
Javon Williams, freshman at Boston Latin Academy: We don’t even have time to grieve anymore because we see one shooting and we turn around and we’re given about a week or two before it dies down and everybody forgets about it. And then we have to move on, and the cycle starts all over again. And it needs to stop immediately.
McDowell: We are the first generation to always have Internet, always have access to electronics. And back in the day when we had school shootings, but we didn’t have a lot of school shootings. And now, since it’s spread out over the Internet and you can learn about these people on the Internet — some of them even document their progress on the Internet. So I definitely think it, like, contributes a lot.
Ari Kane, co-organizer for Boston March for Our Lives and a rising junior at Georgetown University: People feel like they need to turn to guns to exert power over others. Systemic racism and poverty, a general culture of gun ownership and gun glorification — those are the factors that drive gun violence. And I think the solutions need to be just as holistic as the diagnosis.
Gemmel: Every other country has mental health issues, but no other country has a gun problem like America. No other country has a mass shooting problem like America. It’s the way that we go about getting these firearms and we need to stop using mental health as a scapegoat.
Green: There’s always going to be people who want guns and feel like they need them. If you have some people with guns and some people without them, it’s hard. It’s just a complicated issue. So that’s why we need to address it in multiple ways. Guns aren’t the only factor. There’s so many other factors contributing to people killing each other.
Kwest Deloney, senior at Boston Latin Academy: I’m 17, right? Growing up, I’ve seen with my own two eyes, six people get shot, three of them die. And I’ve never, ever, ever seen somebody shoot up a school. For school shootings, that’s their only intent. The way I see, it is just destruction and death, whereas most shootings that I’ve witnessed, it’s not as random.
Wilkerson: There’s always that factor of, “oh, they were bullied” or “they were suffering from mental health issues,” which, that very well could have been true. But you also have a lot of Black and brown kids in communities having PTSD and trauma from abuse, and you don’t see them committing mass shootings.
“Growing up, I’ve seen with my own two eyes, six people get shot, three of them die.”
Hoilett: School violence is an ultimatum of like what you choose to do with what you’re capable of. Which is why I always am saying that it starts with the legislations and the access to guns. The police can respond to a shooting between two people. But obviously the way that they’re responding to mass shootings aren’t quick enough.
Meszler: We’ve seen what only thoughts and prayers has led to. And we are tired of inaction and tired of preventable tragedies.
Gemmel: This time is different. And if you don’t, frankly, get with the program, then we are going to vote you out.