Sometimes the wings of a butterfly can start a hurricane.
Emma Gonzalez, the 18-year-old senior and survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 of her classmates and teachers, is that butterfly.
Her impassioned 11-minute speech at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale just two days after an ex-student murdered her classmates went viral. She became an instant celebrity, receiving both accolades and hate tweets.
Gonzalez’s activism has led some conspiracy theorists to falsely accuse her of being a “crisis actor” who is paid to speak out against guns. An aide to Florida State Representative Shawn Harrison e-mailed the Tampa Bay Times on Feb. 20, claiming that Gonzalez and another student, David Hogg, were crisis actors.
But Gonzalez is no actor. She’s for real and is helping lead a national movement. She wrote on Twitter, “this is not about getting rid of all guns, it’s about making it harder to obtain them and impossible to obtain those semi-automatic weapons of war in a civilian setting, rid the nation of vile, murderous assault weapons used by the school killer.”
“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks,” she said, “Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because … we are going to be the last mass shooting,” she tearfully told the world.
She added, “That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it’s going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all the students. The students who are dead, the students still in the hospital, the student now suffering PTSD, the students who had panic attacks during the vigil because the helicopters would not leave us alone, hovering over the school.”
As for her hair, the buzz cut isn’t a protest, rather, she says, her long hair was too hot for the Florida sun. Gonzalez told the Sun Sentinel that while people have been wondering if it was a decision tied to feminism or a political statement, that’s not really what she was thinking about when she got the cut. She termed her hair “an extra sweater I’m forced to wear.”
About an hour before a gunman entered her school and fatally shot 17 people with an AR-15 rifle, Gonzalez was in an AP U.S. government class learning about the role of special interest groups in American politics, according to a Washington newspaper.
Since the shooting, Gonzalez has thought about the groups she supported like the Sierra Club. And she recalled the one she most despises: the National Rifle Association. “I hate guns,” she said in a recent interview as she recalled the classroom debate. “All of these people are getting paid to do nothing about guns, and we as a people are doing nothing in response, so that’s our fault. It’s the people’s fault for not doing something.”
She was with dozens of other students in the auditorium when they heard the fire alarm. They made their way to the hallway where they were quickly told to turn around and take cover, prompting them back into the auditorium. She would spend the next two hours using her phone to search the Internet for updates on the active shooter until police finally entered the auditorium.
The night of the shooting, Gonzalez saw a list of the victims and realized she knew several.
The next day was spent attending a vigil in honor of the victims. By that night, she had decided to speak out publicly. She soon got her chance: Her friend David Hogg — one of the most outspoken students at the school — texted to tell her that CNN was looking for someone to join them on-air that night with Anderson Cooper.
She had a simple question for NRA spokesman Dana Loesch during CNN’s gun violence town hall: “Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semiautomatic … weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic, like bump stocks?”
Loesch’s answer was less than direct. “This individual was nuts and I, nor the millions of people that I represent as a part of this organization, that I’m here speaking for, none of us support people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others, getting their hands on a firearm.”
To quote Gonzalez, the world cries not just “BS,” but bullshit. Period.
The NRA has paid millions to members of Congress and to Donald Trump to prevent legislation that would block the mentality disturbed from buying guns. In fact, Psycho Don quietly, a little less than a year ago, negated a regulation aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of some severely mentally ill people.
Of course it was one of his most hated people, Barack Obama, who signed the regulation. The rule required the Social Security Administration to disclose information quarterly to the national gun background check system about certain people with mental illness.
From their website, “The NRA opposes expanding firearm background check systems, because background checks don’t stop criminals from getting firearms.” It also opposes a policy called a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” or a “Red Flag” law that has been widely cited as a policy that could have stopped the gunman from having access to firearms. Such laws would allow family members and law enforcement to petition courts to temporarily remove people’s access to firearms if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others.
Loesch was booed as she left the CNN venue. She later claimed before a meeting of conservatives that “the crowd was chanting ‘burn her, burn her.’ ” Famously, she was lying.
“I had to have a security detail to get out. I wouldn’t have been able to exit that if I didn’t have a private security detail,” she claimed. “And I came there to talk solutions, and I still am going to continue that conversation on solutions as the NRA has been doing [since] before I was alive,” she said.
Video posted to Twitter after the town hall event shows Loesch being escorted out of the arena as audience members booed her and chanted “shame on you.”
Since Loesch advocates being armed, one has to wonder why she was so frightened of school kids. Surely her concealed weapon must have had a large-capacity clip.
The NRA claims to teach firearms safety and self-defense tactics. She is even in videos showing her macho-ness with an AR-15.
Loesch also slammed the audience at the event for applauding Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who suggested the only way to keep individuals from taking advantage of gun law loopholes would be to ban all semi-automatic rifles.
“The government has proven that they cannot keep you safe. And yet, some people want all of us to disarm,” Loesch said. “You heard that town hall last night. They cheered the confiscation of firearms. And it was over 5,000 people.”
During the event, she was challenged by the mother of one of the shooting victims, who asked Loesch why the NRA protects Second Amendment rights more than her son’s “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel also confronted Loesch during the event, telling her she is not standing up for victims of school shootings “until you say, ‘I want less weapons.’ ”
The next day, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA and America’s leading gun nut, accused liberal Democrats and the news media of joining in a socialist plot “to eradicate all individual freedoms.” Loesch was even more vindictive. She told the cheering audience, “Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it,” she claimed.
“Now I’m not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings.”
“Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media.”
Aren’t mass shootings a tragedy, Dana? Guess not to the NRA, which simply shrugs them off with alarming ease.
When will America and the brave, deserving students like butterfly Emma Gonzalez and her equally brave, outspoken classmates get their hurricane relief?