Florida School Shooting: Meet Survivors Who Became Activists for Gun Violence Prevention

These students survived the Feb. 14 mass shooting — then they became activists against gun violence

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Two weeks ago, Emma Gonzalez led the life of a typical high school senior. But after speaking out in an 11-minute speech at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale just two days after a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student fatally shot 17 of her peers, she’s quickly become one of the country’s most visible gun violence prevention activists at just 18 years old.

During her speech, Gonzalez vowed that she, her classmates, their parents and teachers and her community wouldn’t stop fighting — they want to be the last mass shooting survivors in American history.

“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks,” she said. “Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because … we are going to be the last mass shooting.”

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Parkland Shooting New Jersey, Livingston, USA - 25 Feb 2018
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David Hogg, 17, is a senior and student journalist.

During the shooting, Hogg huddled with his classmates inside a classroom. As a journalist, he decided to pull out his phone and interview fellow students about gun violence prevention.

Hogg became the focus of an unfounded conspiracy theory that he was a "crisis actor" coached by his father, a former FBI agent.

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Parkland students march and meet lawmakers at Florida state Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida, USA - 13 Feb 2018

Delaney Tarr, 17, is among the most vocal and visible of Stoneman Douglas students pushing for change to prevent gun violence.

On the one-week anniversary of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas, Tarr joined with student survivors who went to Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

“We want gun reform. We want common-sense gun laws. We want stronger mental-health checks and background checks to work in conjunction. We want a better age limit. We want privatized selling to be completely reformed so you can’t just walk into a building with $130 and walk out with an AR-15," she said.

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Cameron Kasky says he has received hundreds of online death threats, allegedly made by NRA members upset about his advocacy on gun issues.

Within days of the deadly shooting he survived, Kasky, 17, founded the #NeverAgain movement on Twitter. It calls on lawmakers to introduce and enact legislation mandating stricter background checks for people who want to purchase firearms.

“I am really hurt by this,” Kasky told PEOPLE days after the mass shooting. “The reason I think this time is different is because it’s Parkland and it’s Douglas. … Parkland and Stoneman Douglas were able to stay strong together. That’s the thing that’s keeping us going. Together. Everybody is together.”

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Alex Wind is a founding member of the #NeverAgain movement.

"We're just trying to create the presence that we, as a community, never want this to happen again, and it never should happen again," Wind, 17, told PEOPLE days after the shooting.

Wind received attention for his rejoinder to President Trump's response to the shooting, in which he urged the president to make gun laws stricter.

He also sung the national anthem before a Miami Heat basketball game, receiving a rousing ovation.

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News: Gun Control Protest
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On Feb. 14, Jaclyn Corin lost close friend Joaquin Oliver during the massacre that killed 14 students and three staff members at their school in Parkland, Florida.

The next day, the 17-year-old's purpose was clear: take action to stop gun violence.

Corin is among several survivors who helped launch a social media campaign -- with the hashtag #WhatIf? -- to pressure lawmakers to take measures to stop gun violence.

In a video recorded for the movement, Coryn says, “What if leading politicians valued children’s lives over dollars? What if 19-year-olds didn’t have access to weapons of war?”

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