POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Parkland survivors share their stories to inspire change before elections

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

“We could hear him in the hall, we could hear the screaming from the other rooms, and the screaming for help,” Taylor Morales said.

Parkland shooting survivor Taylor Morales and her fellow classmate Macey Wonacott told their stories at William Paterson University this week to continue the conversation on what they call common sense gun laws.

“If you’re not allowed to drink at that age then you shouldn’t be allowed to buy a gun at that age. Also there needs to be universal background checks because it’s important,” said Morales. “Semi-automatic, fully automatic weapons should not be available to civilians.”

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas started the March for Our Lives movement after a gunman opened fire at their school, killing 14 students and three staff members. Thousands of people across the country rallied alongside them to end gun violence.

“I feel guilt that I lived and they didn’t. So I feel if there was a reason that I have to do everything in my power to make sure that my life is worth living and that what I’m doing is making actual change,” Morales said.

The director of the Newtown Foundation, Tom Campbell has been fighting for gun control laws ever since his father was shot and killed 50 years ago.

“On a grassroots level we’re working much more closely with state assemblies and state senates to push bills, and we’re seeing better and better laws on a local level. Sooner or later that rises to the top. All of those local legislators they move up the ladder,” said Campbell.

A New Jersey bill banning “ghost guns” – or guns made using untraceable components including plastic guns made by 3D printer – was recently sent to the governor’s desk. If signed, it will be the strongest law in the country on those measures.

“I would say we need to look past our political views and our political parties and come together,” said Wonacott.

The March for Our Lives organization hopes to get a record number of young voters to the polls in the upcoming election.

“If they continue to not do anything eventually they’re just not going to be in office anymore,” said Wonacott. “Because we’re going to make sure they’re not there. Because they’re here to represent the public and the citizens and that’s not what they’re doing.”

Morales told the room that nine months ago she was cheering for her friend Gina. Nine months ago she saw her neighbor Joaquin every day and took that for granted — both were killed. And they and the other victims are the reason why she has not stopped fighting for change.

“I’m going to push to make sure that others will not have the same fate as they did,” said Morales.

The movement is calling on students across the country to walk out of school or work at 10 a.m. on Election Day to vote.