One year after Parkland shooting, students remember lives lost, call for more restrictive gun laws


Natalie Chun/The Daily Northwestern

Arianna Staton and Avery Zieper light 17 candles at a Thursday vigil commemorating last year’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Staton said she organized the event Wednesday when she realized no one else had planned anything.

Cameron Cook, Assistant Campus Editor

Roughly 40 students gathered at The Rock on Thursday for a vigil commemorating the one-year anniversary of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed.

The vigil, organized by Communication first-year Arianna Staton, was held to remember the lives of the 14 students and three educators who died when a gunman opened fire at Stoneman Douglas on Feb. 14, 2018. The mass shooting — the third deadliest school shooting in American history — spurred a national movement for stricter gun regulations.

Staton is from South Florida, near Parkland, and said she had personal ties with some students at Stoneman Douglas. She said she began planning the event around 3 p.m. Wednesday when it became clear that “no one else was going to do anything.”

“I was really disturbed that no one was doing anything to commemorate or honor these victims,” she said. “So I was like, ‘Okay, I guess I’ll do something.’ So I am.”

Staton read a speech she wrote for the vigil, in which she said Valentine’s Day will “never be the same” since the shooting in Parkland. She also recounted her own grieving process, and how she would spend classes locating potential escape routes instead of taking notes on lectures.

Staton also called out her home state for not doing enough to stop gun violence, citing the state’s policies on gun permits, gun owner and seller licensure, and background checks. Progress has been made, Staton said, but “there is still much to be done.”

Weinberg first-year Noah Scantlebury, who attended the vigil, said the United States hasn’t made “nearly enough” progress on gun control in the past year. Scantlebury, who grew up in Texas, said he knows firsthand how lenient gun regulations can be.

“Gun laws are really, really lax, and they shouldn’t be,” he said. “I’m very passionate about the issue, and I think a lot of the people here know how prevalent gun violence is, especially living this close to Chicago.”

During the vigil, Staton also read a letter from a Parkland mother to her daughter who was killed in the shooting. She and Weinberg first-year Avery Zieper then lit 17 candles to represent each of the victims, followed by a short silence.

Communication first-year Sam Liu also grew up in Florida, and said that seeing the aftermath of the shooting in real life was extremely emotional for her. She said that while the event was sad, she was glad Staton organized it.

“It does raise awareness,” she said. “It’s Valentine’s Day, and it’s really great to see people coming out and caring enough about this to be here.”

Scantlebury said that remembering those killed in the shooting is an important way to keep issues of gun violence in the public conscience.

“People see something terrible happen in the news, and they’re quick to react to it, but also quick to forget about it,” he said. “Events like this and vigils that commemorate the memory of those who were lost are very important just so people don’t forget the fight isn’t over.”

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Twitter: @cam_e_cook

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