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Parkland Survivors Speak at UMass Dartmouth

Isabella Rocha, Contributor

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On October 17th, the third annual Reverend Dr. Robert Lawrence Lecture was held at UMass Dartmouth. This year’s lecture featured Jaclyn Corin and David Hogg, two survivors of the Parkland school shooting and co-founders of the March for Our Lives movement. After the mass shooting that took the lives of 14 of their classmates and 3 teachers, Hogg and Corin became advocates for common sense gun laws. Their lecture focused on voting, gun control, and anti-violence.

Jaclyn Corin was the first of the two to speak. She was the leading founder of the March for Our Lives movement and helped get her classmates together to fight for gun control in America. The day of the shooting, Corin was “distributing carnations around [her] community and around [her] school.” She was passing them out in the building the shooting occurred in and left ten minutes before the shooting started and described the events of when her class was finally able to get out of the school safely. Students had to run with their hands in the air after being let out of their classroom by a S.W.A.T. team.

The day after the shooting, Corin got in touch with a Florida Senator and wanted to make sure that the media would not forget about this mass shooting. “96 people die every single day from gun violence” Corin says, calling gun violence “an epidemic that rages our country every single day.”  Right away, students started going to rallies and protests to make sure that their voices were heard. They planned the March for Our Lives on March 24th and were able to get about 900 marches to happen. Corin stressed the fact that people are never too young to make a change. The March for Our Lives movement was started by high schoolers who continued to speak up about a recurring problem that needs to be addressed. She mentioned how this movement is “not just about school shootings, it’s not just about mass shootings. It’s about every senseless gun death that happens in this country.” Towards the end of her speech, Corin said: “gun violence affects everyone…and gun violence does not discriminate.” This is an issue that affects everyone in the United States and our country is the only first-world country who has this issue with guns. Corin plans on “devoting her life to this issue” and encouraged people to go out and vote in the midterms on November 6th.

The second speaker, David Hogg spoke about the importance of voting and how voting can help change America. He advocates for “public safety” because “gun violence is a public health issue.” He argued the students in March for Our Lives are not pro- or anti-gun, but “are anti-people dying.” Through this movement, Hogg and Corin, along with their classmates, are hoping to encourage people to vote for leaders who support common sense gun laws to help make America safer. Many mass shooters are law-abiding gun owners because, currently, the NRA doesn’t support universal background checks and don’t support disarming domestic abusers. Due to these lack of laws and regulation, “a majority of these mass shootings and a majority of guns that are used in crimes are lawfully obtained.”

Currently, there is no funding for research to be done on gun violence in America. Other countries have “very similar rates of mental health and bullying” as the United States. The difference between those countries and America is that after a shooting happened, these countries passed laws enforcing gun safety. The way to change these policies and make politicians care is by voting. Politicians must work to “solve gun violence in every community because every community is voting” and every community is fighting for the rights of everyone in the United States. Americans need to show politicians “we are voting to protect our friends and family and people we haven’t met and never will because they’ve died from gun violence.” David continued to speak about how mass shootings have been going on for centuries, and how “wrong it is that we call people illegal on stolen land.” In order to change these policies and make America a better place, people have to go out and vote. Through voting, citizens have the ability to change the country. Politicians “are public servants”, but right now, they are serving large corporations and themselves rather than the people. In schools in America, there “are more police officers in our schools than social workers”, which does not help the mental health issues America has. American citizens have the power to change policies surrounding guns, immigration, mental health, and drugs by voting in the midterms on November 6th. The events going on in this country “are not okay” and the way to change this is by voting. David encouraged people to “not elect Democrats or Republicans, but people that are morally just leaders that represent us and our interests.”

To watch the full lecture, visit https://www.umassd.edu/news/2018/lawrenceparkland2018.html.

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Parkland Survivors Speak at UMass Dartmouth