Parkland survivors marching for their lives last year. Photo by Shawn Thew/EPA
A year after the Parkland slaughter, a hopeful sliver of light with the House Judiciary Committee's passage of a background checks bill, the first step forward in years thanks to the fierce and furious Parkland kids fighting for change by "laying the bleeding bodies of their classmates across the nation's heart." They have forged powerful connections with other still-healing survivors, advocates who insist on honoring the victims, and grieving parents who agonize over whether they told their kids they loved them that final day. The last year has also seen some 67 state gun safety laws passed, 40 gun lobby allies defeated in Congress, and a House majority elected that wants to end the carnage.
Then again. A gutless, complicit, NRA-bought Senate remains awash in specious thoughts and prayers. Kids as young as five undergo traumatizing active shooter drills to keep them "safe" from bad men. And in the year since Parkland, nearly 1,200 more kids - roughly, inconceivably a Parkland every five days - were gunned down in this bloodstained country, according to figures from Gun Violence Archive data. (In grotesque truth, the number is likely higher, because it omits suicides.) Numbers from the Brady Campaign are even more shocking: They estimate 47 kids and teenagers a day are shot in murders, assaults, suicides or suicide attempts, accidents or police shootings; of those, 8 die, 39 survive. Asks a North Carolina paper, "What insanity is that?"
In an effort to honor the 1,200 young lives lost this year, The Trace, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to expanding coverage of gun violence, partnered with several newspapers to produce Since Parkland, a compilation of profiles of every victim. Perhaps most chillingly, the site has a section that just lists their names in a mournful, endless scroll. Still, the goal was to remember the dead "not as statistics, but as human beings with rich histories." To tell the stories of those achingly short lives, they turned to teen journalists, "because it's their story to tell." While most were assigned their profiles, some chose their subjects based on a certain affinity - a shared birthday, a relative who'd likewise died in a drive-by shooting. The pieces are short but moving, as are the titles: "On Her T-Shirt, A Peace Sign...A Life Still In Construction...His Older Brother Found Him First."
Their abbreviated tone eerily echoes the searing, tearful speech by Parkland survivor Emma Gonzales at last year's March For Our Lives. She ended it with that long, pained silence. May they rest in peace and power.
Six minutes and 20 seconds with an AR-15, and my friend Carmen would never complain to me about piano practice. Aaron Feis would never call Kyra "miss sunshine," Alex Schachter would never walk into school with his brother Ryan, Scott Beigel would never joke around with Cameron at camp, Helena Ramsay would never hang around after school with Max, Gina Montalto would never wave to her friend Liam at lunch, Joaquin Oliver would never play basketball with Sam or Dylan. Alaina Petty would never, Cara Loughren would never, Chris Hixon would never, Luke Hoyer would never, Martin Duque Anguiano would never, Peter Wang would never, Alyssa Alhadeff would never, Jamie Guttenberg would never, Jamie Pollack would never.
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Survivor Cameron Kasky. Photo by Rhona Wise/Getty
Survivor Anthony Borges, shot five times. Photo by Michael Avedon