Are teens changing the gun-control debate? Readers speak out

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez comforts a classmate during a CNN town hall meeting, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Fla.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez comforts a classmate during a CNN town hall meeting, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Fla. AP

You can read and comment on more local and national news on The Herald-Sun’s Facebook pages, including our new Facebook group “The Story of My Street: Gentrification in Durham.”

Last week managing editor Mark Schultz posted this on his Facebook page linking to a story about Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, and invited readers to comment.

“The teen opened her Twitter account two days after the shootings and now has more than 999,000 followers. ... What do you think? Will/Should Parkland change the national debate? Comments welcome and may be published in The Herald-Sun later this week.”

Here is what some of you said

Sally McIntee: It is not historically unusual for the young people to lead, and these are our first generation of smart-phone experts. These students are only a few years younger than those who founded our country.

David Gellatly: @Emma4Change for President ... some day!

Sue Unruhe: Hallelujah! These young people speak with passion, courage and intelligence. Harkens back to the Sixties, when our older brothers were being drafted just out of high school to fight in Viet Nam. We were passionate and fighting for the lives of people not much older than we were. We pressed to get the draft ended and kept it up through to the end of that ghastly war. Enough IS enough! Say it Emma and classmates, SAY IT.

Matt Maggio: News stories report that Oprah gave her group $500,000 and George Clooney another $500,000. At that point, it is time to ask what the money is funding and who runs “her” group. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

David Gellatly: Take the time to read @Emma4Change on Twitter; surely you have nothing to fear from a teenager? The money is funding protest against the NRA, those folks who support selling assault rifles to mentally challenged American youth. And yes, it comes from Oprah and Clooney and many other liberals who are tired of school shootings, workplace shootings, dead teens and dead people of all ages.

Chris Kromm: The Florida students have been entirely transparent about where their money is going – in stark contrast to the NRA, which conceals how much of their income comes from gun corporations, shuffles around money to hide how it’s spent on politics, and whose spokesperson, in an epic Twitter meltdown, denied the NRA even does lobbying, an obvious lie. Follow the money, indeed.

John Rees: Regardless of whether more money has been exchanged, how can it be bad to kick start her cause? How can it be evil for her to lead a cause to ban these unnecessary weapons? Please remember, a couple of weeks ago, she was a high school kid like many others, who wasn’t having to deal with an unimaginable tragedy many of us have been fortunate to have not (yet) experienced. What is more telling of the depth of the gun culture that bleeds through in our society is now these kids receive death threats. As if she hasn’t had enough of that already. Anger and suspicion in these kids direction is misdirected. They did not choose to be in this situation, and I am sure they wish the circumstances were different4

Chris Weaver: Sorry, these kids are pawns for an agenda. It is unreasonable to place blame on the nation’s oldest civil rights organization when the school failed, when the Broward County “PROMISE Program” failed. This program is a progressive boondogle. The SRO officer that failed to enter the building was PROMISE Officer of the Year in 2014. The FBI failed. The sheriff’s department failed in responding to call on the kid ... and here we have child blaming the NRA.

Lorenz Hintz: It is great that students are speaking out and are using a horrible event as a way to get positive action. It is sad that others on this post are attacking the kids speaking their minds. I just googled the Promise Program. It seems like a good program. The NRA has a long history of opposing any policies which restrict guns, which the kids seem to have done a good job pointing out.

Amanda Ashley: Finally. Courage and clear thinking. To those who castigate this movement, this standing up to fear mongers, paranoid gun fetishists, and corrupt politicians bought and sold by the gun death merchants, be aware that your soul and morally and humanity hangs in the balance with this issue. Be careful what you choose.

Jean Bolduc: Yes. The page has turned. They’re not intimidated by Trump, know how to deal with bullies and their agenda is simple -they want to return home from school alive.

Cheryl Jones Shiflett: Could this also be a coping mechanism rather than just feeling hopeless, victimized and powerless? I heard her speech and thought it was a passionate response to what she was subjected to through no fault of her own. I also see it as a way to channel some of this energy to help prevent others from experiencing the same thing.

Michael Czeiszperger: Having young adults stand up for what they believe and push society in the right direction is nothing new. The Greensboro 4 were in their late teens, after all. This is a generation that saw massive societal change in gay marriage, so it’s not much of a stretch that they will not stand around and watch their parents and grandparents throw up their hands and say nothing can be done.

Kimberly Carey Willardson: The fact that we’ve continued talking about these students and the need for sensible gun-control legislation every single day since the MSD massacre occurred shows that the national debate has changed. Even one month ago, none of us expected Florida Gov. Rick Scott to voice support for any type of change to gun regulation. Three weeks ago, the NRA still had all of its corporate partners in place. The tide has turned on the national discussion about gun control. And organizations who’ve worked hard for this watershed moment are not about to allow this momentum to slow down.