The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL was heartbreaking. And given the GOP’s continued insistence that “now is not the time to talk about gun control,” it would be easy to despair and resign to mass murder as a standard fact of life, an assumed risk that hangs over our heads every time we leave the house. Fear seems like the new normal, every goodbye charged with the knowledge that it could be permanent.
But the students at Stoneman Douglas have refused to give in to that default feeling of defeat, and have instead have rallied through their mourning. They have purposely politicized this event, defying the calls by GOP officeholders like Marco Rubio who have cynically tried to take gun control off the table in the wake of a gun-driven tragedy. Through Twitter, remarkably poised TV interviews, public speeches, and collective organization online, the students have demanded change, and we owe it to them to assist in any way we can.
This week, we are devoting Progressives Everywhere to raising money and support for their causes and the candidates that will act on their behalf. The Republican Party controls Florida, but as we saw last week, Democrats can turn the tide with concerted action and an emphasis on community. Even if you can’t vote in Florida, you can help fuel the movement pushing for change. They started March for Our Lives, a new national movement inspired by the shootings; you can support them by donating here. On March 24th, students across the country will descend on Washington to demand new gun laws, which should make for one of the most stirring protests of a Trump era filled with them. You can join and support their Facebook group, Never Again.
Financially, you can direct donations to help cover the considerable medical bills of Anthony Borges, a 15-year-old who was shot five times while holding a classroom door closed in order to protect his classmates. It is absurd that in America, anyone has to pay high hospital bills, and it’s especially offensive that a young hero like Anthony faces massive debt. Until we can fix the system, we can at least help him.
You can also follow many of the other heroic students on Twitter and amplify their message; here’s a good resource for those accounts.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is right now a bit of a longshot in the Democratic primary race to replace outgoing Florida Governor Rick Scott, but he’s by far the most progressive candidate. He’s also been standing up for gun control — his plan is very comprehensive — for a long time. He was sued by the gun lobby for refusing to repeal laws that banned shooting guns in public parks, and took that NRA-fueled juggernaut head-on. Tallahassee won that case, and Gillum promises similar outcomes should he win the governorship. He’s also been very vocal in the wake of the Parkland tragedy, highlighting the students speaking out and reiterating his calls for gun control.
There are also several special elections coming up in Florida, which can give Democrats a headstart in their efforts to turn the statehouse blue. First up is the race for the State Senate seat from the 81st district, which was vacated when the Democratic lawmaker admitted to having an affair with a lobbyist. It’s important for Dems to hold that seat in a lopsided Florida capitol, and luckily they have a great candidate in Lori Berman, who has been in the legislature for seven years. She has stopped taking contributions during the legislative session, but you can help in other ways via her website.
We also have to shout out a candidate we’ve already highlighted: Ryan Torrens, who is running for Florida attorney general. He has also come out for strong gun control reforms since the Parkland tragedy.