5 Years Later: Honoring Parkland Victims & Survivors With Action
February 14, 2023 marks five years since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Five years ago on Feb. 14, 2018, a shooter armed with an AR-15 style assault weapon walked the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, opening fire on students, teachers, and administrators. The assault weapon used enabled the shooter to kill 17 people and injure 17 others in only a matter of minutes. It became, what was at the time, the deadliest shooting at a high school in U.S. history.
In the wake of that day, young people were galvanized into action. What started out as terror and tragedy became new momentum for the gun violence prevention movement, led by a new generation of activists.
Team ENOUGH, Brady’s youth arm, was born out of that momentum.
In the months that followed the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a group of dedicated young people, including gun violence survivors from the Parkland shooting, joined together as founding members of Team ENOUGH. Determined to make a change, this group of youth advocates built a grassroots movement focused on voter education, community empowerment, and legislative advocacy.
“No student should have to hide underneath her classmate’s body to survive, but I was that student. I’m proudly a part of Team ENOUGH to ensure that no other student has to go through what I went through.” — Team ENOUGH founding member Aalayah Eastmond (2018)
In the five years since its founding, Team ENOUGH has honored gun violence victims and survivors with action. As we commemorate the lives lost and changed forever on February 14, 2018, we are also taking a look back on the work that has been done in their honor.
HONOR WITH ACTION: THE YOUTH VOTE
Young people showed up in record numbers for the midterm elections in 2022. Youth turnout was the second-highest in the last three decades. And among the issues that young voters routinely named as a top priority, was gun reform.
Knowing the youth vote is critical to electing candidates who support gun violence prevention policies, Team ENOUGH has worked to register and mobilize young voters across the country. In 2022, Team ENOUGH joined together with Brady to mail over 10,000 postcards to voters, encouraging them to vote for gun violence prevention champions. We also hit the road engaging young people across the state of Florida. These efforts and the work of young grassroots advocates helped maintain a gun safety majority in the U.S. Senate.
In 2020, with COVID-19 impacting the nation’s electoral processes, Team ENOUGH worked hard alongside democracy rights advocates to ensure equal access to the ballot box. We know we can’t prevent gun violence until we ensure everyone can fairly participate in our democracy, especially when the communities most impacted by gun violence are the ones that face the greatest barriers. We launched “Voting Access Saves Lives,” a campaign in partnership with Brady and March For Our Lives, to advocate for expanding voting access and dismantling systemic barriers to voting. We shouldn’t be making it harder to cast ballots, we should be making it easier.
HONOR WITH ACTION: BANNING GHOST GUNS
Team ENOUGH has been busy in states across the country working to pass life-saving gun laws. As part of our work, we’ve drawn attention to the danger of homemade, untraceable “ghost guns” which are unserialized firearms that anyone can purchase without a background check.
Ghost guns have been used in a number of mass shootings including the 2019 shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA, where a 16-year-old shot and killed two classmates and injured three others. Team ENOUGH’s Stephan Abrams showed just how easy it was for a minor to purchase one of these weapons in a 2020 video. Abrams had a ghost gun kit and parts delivered to his California home where he could have easily assembled the weapon and had a fully functioning handgun in under an hour. This video was cited by lawmakers across the country and used in testimony to support legislation regulating ghost guns.
In San Diego, Team ENOUGH was instrumental in the city becoming the first in California to ban these weapons with the Eliminate Non-Serialized Untraceable Firearms (ENUF) Ordinance. And across the country, Team ENOUGH has called on state lawmakers to pass ghost gun bans while also driving support for the Biden-Harris Administration’s ghost gun rule, which went into effect in 2022.
I know too well how easy it is to acquire these firearms, as I bought one of these dangerous ghost gun kits as a minor to demonstrate the ease with which any person can acquire one. Our city now leads the state in the effort to stop their traffic and sale, helping to stop their flow into communities already disproportionately affected by gun violence. — Team ENOUGH Executive Council member Stephan Abrams (2022)
HONOR WITH ACTION: CHANGING OUR LAWS
In the years since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Team ENOUGH has built the only youth-led national lobbying collective for gun reform. With efforts in Washington, DC, California, Florida, and Virginia, Team ENOUGH has worked with policy experts to train young people on how to talk to their lawmakers about the importance of gun violence prevention efforts. After a series of training, the collective takes their new skills to the halls of power, meeting with legislators at the state and federal level.
Already in 2023, collective members met with state legislators in Virginia to voice support for gun laws that are facing challenges this legislative session, including a waiting period, extreme risk law, and concealed carry permitting system. In past sessions, young advocates have made their voices heard on legislation to ban assault weapons, prevent access to firearms for individuals convicted of hate crimes, and regulating ghost guns, among other issues. And by mobilizing young grassroots advocates across the country, we’ve driven thousands of calls and emails in support of vital gun safety bills.
A number of Team ENOUGH’s youth leaders have also spoken at legislative hearings, including Robert Schentrup, whose sister Carmen was killed in the 2018 Parkland shooting. In 2022, Robert testified in Washington State in support of a bill to ban high-capacity magazines, helping pass the bill out of committee and sending it to the full House. Fellow Parkland survivor, Aalayah Eastmond, has also testified at a number of hearings and most recently spoke at the reintroduction of the 2023 Assault Weapon Ban.
HONOR WITH ACTION: FUNDING GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION RESEARCH
Gun violence is a public health epidemic in the U.S. Not only is it the leading cause of death for children, it takes the lives of more than 40,000 people annually. Yet, for more than 20 years (longer than most Team ENOUGH advocates have been alive), Congress had refused to fund gun violence research.
Knowledge is power, and with additional gun violence research we are able to develop more effective, life-saving solutions. That’s why Team ENOUGH and Brady, along with partners, organized the #WeNeedToKnow campaign, to urge lawmakers to approve life-saving funding for research to prevent gun violence.
And it worked! In December of 2019, with the help of gun violence prevention advocates, including Team ENOUGH, Congress appropriated $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes for Health (NIH) to study gun violence. And they did so again in 2020!
By studying gun violence we can help build a safer country for the next generation and Team ENOUGH is dedicated to building these data-driven solutions.
HONOR WITH ACTION: ADDRESSING GUN VIOLENCE IN ALL ITS FORMS
Mass shootings are a uniquely American epidemic that have changed the very fabric of our society. Shootings like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas have traumatized the nation, and while these incidents have a profound psychological impact on our society, they account for only a small percentage of all gun violence in America. Team ENOUGH works to ensure that all types of gun violence and the communities impacted receive the same recognition and outrage as mass shootings.
Team ENOUGH is led largely by young people of marginalized and underserved communities that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. It is essential to our work that we recognize the complex nature of gun violence, its root causes, and the comprehensive solutions needed to solve this epidemic.
Over the past five years we have held mutual aid events in cities across the country. We’ve called attention to hate filled violence against LGBTQ+, AAPI, and faith communities. We’ve worked with mental health partners to provide resources in effort to prevent firearm suicide. We’ve marched against police violence. And we’ve organized in Black and Brown communities that are being impacted by firearm homicide at alarming rates.
“Policing in America disproportionately affects Black and Brown Americans because it is built on a foundation of inequity, white supremacy, and suppression. This foundation has generated untold trauma, not only for victims, but for bystanders and entire communities.” — Team ENOUGH Executive Council (2021)
We must invest in our communities to end cycles of violence, disarm hate, and ensure culturally competent mental health resources are readily available.
Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas we’ve made great strides for gun violence prevention. Dozens of states have passed stronger gun laws, life-saving executive actions have been implemented at the federal level, we’ve hosted numerous community outreach events, and our movement has been joined by countless new advocates. Together, we can continue to honor with action and create the country we all want and deserve — where everyone is free from fear of gun violence.