Parkland Students Build Social Media Campaign

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Above Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Note: A key tool of advocacy for any campaign is social media. The Internet has become a foundation for political organizing and social media is becoming the most important way for activists to get their message out widely. Since the Parkland shooting, students actively working for gun control laws have built large twitter followings. Emma González, @emma4change, now has 1.07 million Twitter followers, more than both the National Rifle Association and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. Here is one of her recent tweets proclaiming the electoral impact their movement will have in 2018:

González, who joined Twitter last week, is not alone among Parkland students who are building mass Twitter followings. Politico reports “As of Tuesday morning, David Hogg had 352,000 followers, Cameron Kasky 240,000 and Sarah Chadwick 237,000. All of those accounts appear to be rapidly gaining users by the thousands, as all four students push their campaign for stronger gun laws.”  KZ

Just 10 days ago, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior went viral after calling “B.S.” on the National Rifle Association for its role in keeping semi-automatic weapons legal in the United States. This Emma González Twitter update proves that the teenager, and the movement she’s quickly becoming the face of, is not going away any time soon: the vocal gun control advocate only joined the social media platform this month, and she’s already amassed more followers than the gun lobbying group.

González, who first went viral after giving a powerful speech at a gun rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, just days after the massacre, has passed the 1 million-follower mark on Twitter. The NRA has roughly 600,000 followers, and its top spokesperson, Dana Loesch, has around 800,000.

Loesch and González got into a heated debate at a CNN town hall following the Parkland shooting. The teen asked point-blank if the NRA spokeswoman thought it should be more difficult to get hold of semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons in the United States. Instead of responding directly about how accessible firearms are, Loesch blamed law enforcement for failing to properly address several red flags related to the shooter in the weeks leading up to the massacre.

A lot of people have taken notice of González’s rise since her speech and CNN appearance, and view it as a sign that real change is happening and that maybe the gun debate will actually lead to more strict firearm laws this time around. The students’ movement, #NeverAgain, vows to enforce real gun regulation so that there’s never another mass shooting on U.S. soil.

“As of today, @Emma4Change now has more followers than the @NRA,” Beau Willimon, creator of House of Cards, tweeted. “It happened in less than two weeks. This is a movement. This is the future. Change is now.

While the United States makes up about 4.4 percent of the global population, the country possesses 42 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, according to Vox; the research shows that areas where people have more guns see more homicides.

America also has a higher rate of gun violence than any other developed nation: it’s nearly six times the rate of gun violence in Canada, more than seven times that of Sweden, and nearly 16 times that of Germany, according to data from the United Nations compiled by The Guardian.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012, which took the lives of 20 children between ages of 6 and 7, not much has been done at the federal level to limit the amount of guns in the United States or to restrict access to semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons. That’s what González and her fellow Parkland survivors are working to change.

“They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call B.S.,” González said during her speech.

González and her classmates are returning to school for the first time since the shooting on March 5. While classes will start up again on March 7, a full two weeks after the shooting, Parkland survivors have made it clear they won’t abandon their mission and that they’re just getting started.