Parkland Student Surpasses NRA in Twitter Followers Less Than 2 Weeks After School Shooting
Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School — where 17 people were shot and killed two weeks ago — is quickly gaining visibility as a gun violence prevention activist. And on Saturday, the teen’s already powerful impact became even more apparent as she surpassed the NRA in Twitter followers.
The 18-year-old rose to prominence after giving an 11-minute speech at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale two days after the mass shooting, and for standing up to NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch at a town hall hosted by CNN.
This weekend, Twitter users noticed that Gonzalez had more Twitter followers than both the NRA and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch’s official accounts.
“In just one week, Stoneman Douglas student @Emma4Change now has more Twitter followers than NRA spokeswoman @DLoesch. A movement is happening,” wrote Twitter user Matt McDermott.
Wrote another user, William LeGate, “Shoutout to @Emma4Change who has amassed more followers than the @NRA. A kid calling for sensible gun reform has outnumbered the entire NRA—in just 10 days.”
Illustrating her growing platform, 11 minutes later LeGate pointed out that the teenager had already gained four thousand more followers since he posted his first message.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Speaking with PEOPLE, the 18-year-old previously shared that she didn’t expect there to be such a strong reaction to the speech she gave in Fort Lauderdale.
“I didn’t think it would go viral at all,” she said. “It went so far and so fast. I’ve got celebrities tweeting about me. I wanted people to feel what I was feeling.”
And while the attention Gonzalez and her cause have gotten from celebrities has kept the conversation in the spotlight, Gonzalez said she and her peers feel like they’re racing against the clock.
“[I’m racing against] people forgetting, the momentum slowing down,” she continued. “I can only pray nothing happens right now that could distract the nation from paying attention to this. We were very close to being swept under the carpet and we did not let that happen.”
• For more compelling true crime coverage, follow our Crime magazine on Flipboard.
But although Gonzalez plans to push for meaningful gun control legislation and work to prevent politicians who take money from the NRA from getting reelected during the upcoming midterm elections, right now the teenager is focusing on the March for Our Lives, which is set to occur on Mar. 24 in Washington, D.C. as well as other cities throughout the country.
“Our motivation is each other,” she told PEOPLE as she spoke about her activist peers.
“Each and every person and putting together a brilliant argument one at a time. We’re taking inspiration from each other and we’re all taking the grief that we feel for our friends that we’re not allowed to feel because we’re having to be the adults in this situation — we’re taking that grief and putting it forward. We’re taking care of business the only way that we know how,” she continued.