Much has been said in the last few weeks following the tragic school shooting in Florida. Much has been said on guns, gun control, Second Amendment rights, mental health issues, emergency responder response, and more. In the aftermath, for the first time, students have taken center stage — not because they were victims, which they were, of course — but because they were survivors. They are angry, they are frightened, and they want it to stop. They have every right to feel that way.
How they go about expressing those feelings has also been the subject of plenty of commentary. Locally, things began with a rally in Ridgefield late last week, which is documented in our story on page 1A. Later this month, Wilton High School students plan to walk out of class for 17 minutes on March 14, the one-month anniversary of the shooting, to commemorate the 17 lives lost. It is part of a greater movement in which many schools are expected to participate.
On a national level, the March for Our Lives is planned for March 24 in Washington, D.C. A second #National School Walkout, begun by a Ridgefield student, is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting in Colorado.
Students, because of their age, don’t have many options to effect change. Yes, they can keep an eye out for peers who appear a threat, but is that really their job? They can shout at the tops of their lungs — both literally and figuratively — demanding to be heard, but that is not a sure bet. Trying to hand their message from one class of students to the next is not an easy task, and it will take a long time for substantive changes, if ever they come.
But there is one thing students can do that requires only an individual act, and it appears Wilton High students may have caught on. They can register to vote. Last week, at the height of the emotional debate, Wilton’s registrars of voters held their annual high school voter registration drive, always held this time of year.
Nearly twice the number of students who in the past have chosen to register did so this year. Seventy-one students signed up, compared to the usual 40 or so that register in a non-presidential year.
On one news report students were asked to identify their generation — as baby boomers, Gen-Xers, and millennials have been. They responded they were the school shooting generation. They will have the best chance to change this. By registering, they can use their vote to voice their opinion. They will find their vote to ultimately be more powerful than a march, than a song, than a walkout.
Don’t hold back. Register. Vote. Have your say.