Taking Action

Natalie Fiorella, Reporter

The shooting at Parkland High School in February last school year drove students around the country to take action against gun violence, including Blue Valley West Senior April Ma.

This August, Ma wrote an op-ed for Teen Vogue, sharing that she’s always known the deadly consequences of hatred and guns.

However, it wasn’t until she saw the students from the shooting  at Marjory Stoneman Doughlas High School in Parkland, Florida that made her take action to promote gun reform and safety that she felt she had to contribute to the cause as well.

“They’re doing the same things as me, they’re just like me but they’ve actually done something, like starting March for Our Lives and talking to politicians,” Ma said. “Which makes me feel powerful, it makes people, especially students, feel like they’re able to do something.”

Inspired by all of the action around her, Ma started a Johnson County, Kansas, chapter of Students Demand Action.

“Students Demand Action is kind of an offshoot off of the March For Our Lives movement,” Ma said. “It’s specifically a subset under Everytown for Gun Safety, which is an organization dedicated to gun violence prevention.”

Finding people to join Students Demand Action was a little difficult at first.

“It’s mostly getting people who are interested that want to get involved, not just someone who tweets out a hashtag or retweets something,” Ma said. “But there are a lot of people who do want to get involved.”

The Johnson County and Kansas City chapter is currently planning to assemble debates with candidates running for different positions in the upcoming midterms this November.

“We’re working on organizing a mayoral candidate debate in the winter time,” Ma said. “Possibly organizing a debate with Sharice Davids, Chris Clemmens, and Kevin Yoder, who are the candidates for the Third Congressional District of Kansas.”

Ma explains how Everytown, the group that Students Demand Action is organized under, offers various opportunities for students to get involved.

“You don’t have to join our chapter or anything but if you go to their website, it’s really easy to register to get things like text alerts from them. On the site, you can sign up to work on voter registration drives through it,” Ma said. “You can volunteer for a candidate you like too.”

Ma’s involvement in Students Demand Action has made her feel more optimistic for the future.

“I feel more hopeful because nowadays you see everyone telling people to vote and you feel almost left out when you’re not apart of things like this,” Ma said.

Despite Ma feeling hopeful for the future, she knows the reality is that change takes time and until then gun violence will continue to be a problem.

“In terms of other things I’m fearful of the future,” Ma said. “Right as school started we saw some It’s like a cycle and we keep yelling about it but nothing’s happening.”

Ma believes that change can happen with gun reform if more people go out and vote for candidates that support gun safety legislation.