Op-Ed

I'll march in Seattle for my friend in Florida

Alex Davidson of Gig Harbor.
Alex Davidson of Gig Harbor.

I’m a high school student in Gig Harbor, and I’m one of the lead organizers for March For Our Lives Seattle on Saturday. I originally got involved because my friend recently move to Parkland, Florida, with the rest of his family.

My friend was in school when Nikolas Cruz walked in and opened fire. My friend was one of those students fortunate enough to survive the shooting. His history teacher was not.

The story he recounts is heartbreaking. He told me how he had to shelter in place, and how he felt like a sitting duck. He ran through a field to what he hoped was safety, all the while not knowing if he would survive.

He lost classmates and teachers and has to live with this memory for the rest of his life.

Sadly, he is not alone. Since Sandy Hook, 7,000 kids have died in their classrooms or in their communities, yet our elected officials refuse to act on basic gun-safety measures. This is why I march.

When I first heard about the shooting, I didn’t think much about it. Don’t get me wrong, I was devastated for those who lost their lives, but that’s it. The new normal.

I hear this a lot from my friends; these horrible shootings are now commonplace and we are feeling desensitized. All the while I just hear excuses from our elected officials.

Many of them blame mental health, but only three to five percent of gun fatalities are directly related to mental illness. What about the other 95 percent?

We can hide behind the Second Amendment, but did our founding fathers intend for any American over the age of 18 to have access to high-capacity, assault rifles intended for war?

Yet the fact is that an AR-15 was used at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to murder 17 innocent people. An AR-15 was also used in Las Vegas to take 58 lives and in Orlando to kill 50 people.

This is a weapon of destruction meant to inflict the greatest amount of harm as efficiently as possible. It defies logic to put it in the hands of civilians of any age.

What March for Our Lives Seattle participants are asking for is common-sense gun-safety legislation.

I should not go to school every single day wondering if it will be my last.

In addition to a ban on all semiautomatic and automatic weapons, we want the age of purchase for firearms to be raised from 18 to 21. We also want to make sure our teachers are never put in a position where they are armed. We want stricter universal background checks.

These are basic measures that should be fair to any reasonable gun owner, and in fact, almost 80 percent of gun owners support common-sense gun legislation.

Lastly, we ask that our elected officials stop taking support from the NRA.

They say that kids don’t understand the facts but we do know this: Every single day in this country, we are being killed in our schools or in our communities.

I believe that we, as a country, will look back on this time in disbelief and shame that more wasn’t done to protect innocent people.

Let’s protect the USA, not the NRA.

I am a 17-year-old and alone am virtually powerless. But I’m joining with kids all over Washington, and throughout the country, and together we can no longer be ignored.

Saturday’s march is not the end of our activism; it is the beginning of a movement that we will continue until we see real, lasting change.

I’m marching for everyone in this country who believes the time to act on gun-safety legislation is now. Won’t you join me?

Alex Davidson is a junior at Gig Harbor High School. For more information about Saturday’s march, go online to www.marchforourlivesseattle.com

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