Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
The survivor response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting has gotten far more media attention than it did for any other gun-related attack I can remember. This shooting was horrendous and the aftermath is just as depressing, just like the countless other mass shootings in this country.
But the aftereffects of this one are unique because the national public discourse has finally managed to move beyond just mourning the victims and focusing on the shooter. The Douglas students have called for change in the energetic and determined way this country has long needed.
Having just recently graduated from high school, I ask myself how I would have reacted if I were a Douglas student coping with this tragedy. We'd all like to say we would do the same thing — speak on television, devote our social media and our time to organizing rallies and marches, relentlessly raise awareness and demand change without taking no for an answer.
High school students across the country have been organizing and performing walkouts, standing in solidarity with Douglas. Students from Montgomery County walked out of Richard Montgomery, Albert Einstein and Northwood high schools. Some of the survivors even visited Montgomery Blair High School on Monday.
The bottom line is that these remarkable students are doing what needed to be done years ago, before the concert in Las Vegas, before the nightclub in Orlando, before Sandy Hook, before Virginia Tech and even before Columbine.
But as incredible as the students are, they should not have to bear all this responsibility. It's looking as though high schoolers, most of whom cannot even vote, are going to be the ones to finally make progress in the gun control debate. These kids, whose friends and peers were shot to death a little over two weeks ago, are now directly calling out NRA-supported politicians, traveling the country to organize a nationally publicized march and appearing on television to raise awareness.
Experiencing such profound trauma is something no one should have to go through in the first place; setting aside that trauma to convince lawmakers that civilians should not be able to own military-style weapons is downright inhumane. It simply should not have gotten this far.
My disgust here lies not with the young people fighting valiantly for students' lives, but with the people in power who have been failing for so long to protect them. There has been no shortage of worthy opportunities to take action; one would surely think that after 20 elementary school-aged children were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary, there would be incentive for lawmakers to take action. Shame on those who are often so incapable of leading this country virtuously that their constituents must once again lead the fight for justice themselves.
Regardless of our frustration with congressional inaction, we should all stand in solidarity with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Their bravery and initiative should be respected and mirrored in fights for justice in the years to come.
Michela Dwyer is a sophomore English and philosophy major. She can be reached at email@example.com.