It’s time to step up and make your voice heard by voting in the 2018 midterm elections for Democratic and Republican candidates who will support gun safety laws, urges Sari Kaufman. Here’s why.
February 14, 2018 was a day that many students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were looking forward to. It was Valentine’s Day and love was by far the major emotion in the air. That was before former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, entered building 12 on the school campus, armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon and opened fire. Within minutes, fourteen students and three staff members were dead and seventeen others lay wounded. Student Sari Kaufman, 16, then a sophomore, was just leaving a class when a fire alarm, activated by the shooter, went off and her life and the lives of over 3,100 students, were changed forever by the murderous attack.
Now, Sari, a volunteer for Students Demand Action, is devoted to saving the lives of other students by calling for all of YOU who are eligible to vote, get out and do that in the midterm election on Nov. 6. You can educate yourself and cast your vote for candidates who support gun policies which will make schools safer. If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you can do that using our Rock The Vote module, after reading Sari’s impassioned call to vote here. It’s at the bottom of her EXCLUSIVE Hollywoodlife.com post. Plus, join your local chapter of Students Demand Action, here, and get active in fighting deathly gun violence.
‘My name is Sari Kaufman and I am a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I will be going into Junior year in the fall and am a survivor of the February 14th massacre. I am writing this to honor my friends who are not here with us today and to ask people to go out and vote. The morning of the attack seemed like a normal, sunny Florida day. Sadly, this all changed at the sound of an unexpected fire drill. I remember filing out of my classroom at 2:22pm. Once I was outside, I heard five distinctive pops that I thought were gunshots, but I didn’t want to accept that that’s what they, in fact, were.
My memory from that terrible day is still a blur, but what stands out in my mind is my teacher calmly announcing this is not a drill. As I received text messages from my friends, I learned that students and teachers were dying in their classrooms. I realized how serious the situation was and my friends and I began running for our lives. There was so much chaos and confusion; we did not know what was happening. After what seemed like an hour, but was probably only ten minutes, I was able to run to a nearby restaurant and watch the unthinkable news story develop.
My heart broke when I discovered that my 5th period teacher and class had firsthand experiences with the traumatic events of that day. My city and school are forever changed because of that day. I have gone to more funerals in a week than many adults have had to attend in a lifetime. It was heartbreaking to watch parents bury their beloved 14-year-old sons and daughters.
Now, after a few months, this traumatizing event does not feel like a dream anymore, and I’m able to reflect that my school lost 17 innocent people and that gun violence is a significant issue in our country.
I am part of the Stoneman Douglas Debate Team, and back in November I researched the firearm background check system (NICS) as a debate topic. I remember finding a recurring issue. It was that the NRA has so much influence over members of Congress that bills that the organization opposes hardly ever pass or even when they do, they often do not receive funding.
This project led me to conclude that we need to equal the playing field. We need people to go out, use their voices and vote.
Do not let yourself be a person who says that you thought you could never be in a shooting. Instead, go out on November 6th and prevent a shooting from happening in your neighborhood. Do not think of voting as a hassle. Instead, make it more enjoyable and bring some friends. Bring 17 other friends to go out and vote with you; one for each victim that we lost in my school shooting.
Schools are meant to be places of sanctuary, safety and learning for children. I want to be optimistic and hope that current politicians will make necessary changes, but the sad fact is that after school shootings like Parkland, we know that children are victims of America’s gun violence crisis, while attending school, church, the movies and even in their homes. And, after each one, the same thing happens — we reflect on the lives that were taken from us, we vow to do better and we fail to enact meaningful reform.
This is why it is up to citizens of the United States to do something. It is time that we increase voter participation. It is time that we use our freedom that many people do not have, to be able to vote in an election. It is time to recognize that your voice can be heard, and it is time for you to help change this country for the better.
Let’s stop these horrible tragedies by voting for both Republicans and Democrats who support improvements to gun policies which will help promote safety for our schools. I am just asking you to fulfill your civic duty. We need to unite and vote to protect my friends and future generations so they are safe in any public space.
Sari Kaufman will be a Junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and is a volunteer with her local chapter of Students Demand Action.