It's been just over a month since a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In that short time, the momentum in the country's decades-old gun debate has accelerated at breakneck speed. Some of the nation's largest retailers have announced they are raising the minimum purchasing age for firearms to 21 and ending sales of assault-style rifles. Others are getting out of the gun business altogether. Companies are abandoning the NRA in droves, and around 1 million students participated in a nationwide walkout last week. On Saturday, the March for Our Lives is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of protesters to Washington, DC, alone, and many more will attend marches across the country.
Much of this action is thanks to the handful of Parkland students who have become leading activists for gun control in the days since the shooting. They are organized, articulate, driven, and—maybe most importantly—crazy good at social media. In the weeks since the shooting, the survivors have become fixtures on national television, making the rounds on news programs, speaking at rallies, and going to the White House for a meeting with Donald Trump. The kids are members of what is sometimes called the "Mass Shooting Generation," a cohort that grew up having to deal with gun violence, mass shootings, and lockdown drills as an unfortunate fact of life. If the Stoneman Douglas students have made one thing clear, it is that they intend to lose that nickname.
While much of the attention in the recent national debate has rightly been focused on these teenagers, it's important to remember that school shootings are not a new problem in the United States. And so now, at a time when the needle finally feels like it's moving in a sensible direction, we wanted to reach out to those who have lived through the school shootings that have plagued our country over the past several decades to hear their stories.
The resulting series, called Voices of School Shooting Survivors, features essays from 15 current and former students and teachers who have lived through the horror of a senseless shooting at a place of learning. The contributors come from Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and many other schools, and their essays range from discussions on the authors' experiences to their views on media coverage of school shootings to how they feel about gun control today and what sort of change they would like to see. Those who have experienced these events are some of the most valuable voices in the current debate, and the stories in this collection paint a picture of how these tragedies affect victims not only in the weeks and months after the event, but often for the rest of their lives.