US Capitol Building

Lauren Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, testified before members of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery, urging them to take action to prevent more mass shootings.

Taylor Fennell is a telecommunication media studies junior and former news editor for The Battalion.

“If you would have done enough, we wouldn’t have to be having this conversation today.”

That's Parkland survivor Lauren Hogg’s response to lawmakers who think they’ve adequately tackled the issue of gun violence.

Twenty months ago, I sat in the Battalion newsroom as news broke that the deadliest school shooting in American history had just taken place. On February 14, 2018, the country mourned.

The months that followed saw America’s youth rise to action in the fight against gun violence. Survivors in Parkland organized the March For Our Lives movement, transforming the discussion about firearm legislation. Closer to home, I led The Battalion staff in creating an entire issue of our newspaper dedicated to the issue.

Fast forward to today. Lauren Hogg and I both frequent Capitol Hill. While I’m starting my junior year of college as an intern in Washington, she’s beginning her junior year of high school as an activist for gun reform. Last week, we found ourselves in the same room as she testified in her first Congressional hearing.

Hogg relived her horrific experience for members of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery, urging them to take action to prevent more mass shootings. She discouraged the militarization of schools, instead advocating for non-invasive preventative actions such as mental health resources. As I joined members of Congress — including Al Green and Dan Crenshaw from Texas — in listening to her recommendations, I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. Why are our elected officials refusing to act on such an obvious crisis?

Just this Wednesday, presidential hopefuls presented their plans to combat gun violence in a forum organized by March for Our Lives and Giffords, a research organization led by shooting survivor and former congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Each potential candidate supports some sort of gun control, but their plans differ. I can only hope that whoever is elected in 2020 will honor the promises they’re making on the campaign trail. I expect congressional candidates to prioritize this issue just as much, if not more, than those seeking the oval office.

My generation should not be the leader of this movement. The issue of gun violence, especially in schools, should have been addressed the day after the massacre in Columbine — before I was even born. I am outraged at Congress’ passive behavior, and, like Lauren Hogg, I’ve had enough.

It’s time to remind Congress that we, the people, hold the cards in this country. As I’ve already seen in my time in Washington, a simple phone call or email goes a long way. I’m asking, because I can’t afford not to, that every citizen of our great country help protect it by using their voice. And when election day comes, I hope they use their vote too.

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