Minneapolis company Versare Solutions just started manufacturing bulletproof classroom dividers. Some elementary schools are implementing reading corners that double as bulletproof cells in case of an active shooter. Before the Parkland shooting, ten threats or attacks on schools happened each day. After? Seventy. Only 13 percent of teenagers attending public school say they aren’t worried about a shooting. I don’t need to tell you this is an epidemic—students have been saying it for years.
Just this spring, students at more than 2,600 schools walked out in protest of our country’s lack of action. Some sat outside for a moment of silence, some left school entirely, some held “die-ins,” a tactic inspired by the ACT UP, a protest group from the 1980s. Because of the sheer number of kids who walked out across the country, people who had never spoken before were brought together over a common cause. The event in my hometown was one of the most powerful days of my life—and I do not mean that lightly. Many students had incredibly similar experiences of overwhelming unity and empowerment.
So what happened to that power? Nothing has changed. This country still lacks common-sense gun laws, politicians are still taking money from the National Rifle Association, and we’re not even talking about it. It seems the movement has burned out. And maybe it has—maybe activism is only vogue in the moments when Buzzfeed and Huffington Post report on it and “political” slogans turn into fashion statements.
If we want real change to happen, we can’t just give up. We can’t let this moment fall into the annals of history as something brief, irrelevant, or superficial. The movement isn’t a button you can wear on your backpack with a bulletproof insert, it’s an ongoing fight, and it’s hard. It’s draining. It hurts. But collectively, we can get through anything.