On June 11, the University of South Florida College of Public Health’s (COPH) Activist Lab, in partnership with USF Health, hosted a gun violence prevention and advocacy presentation.
Speakers at the event were Mr. David Hogg and Ms. Emma González, two students who survived the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, Florida. A gunman (and former student), using a semi-automatic rifle, shot and killed 17 students and staff at the school and injured 17 others.
Both Mr. Hogg and Ms. González — who’s best known for her battle cry “We call BS” — are advocates for gun violence prevention. They helped form MSD Never Again, a gun control advocacy group founded by MSD students. They also helped organize March for Our Lives, the largest single-day protest against gun violence in U.S. history. Last summer, they toured the country speaking about gun violence prevention.
“Before the shooting, I was interested in broadcast journalism,” said Mr. Hogg, who will enter Harvard University in the fall to study public health policy, American history and government. “I was interested in telling people’s stories. Now I tell the stories of people who aren’t here, like Joaquin Oliver, who died at my school. He fled Venezuela with his family to escape violence, only to be killed in his own classroom in what was thought to be the safest school in Florida.”
Their USF talk, attended by roughly 150 students, faculty, staff and the public, focused on reframing gun violence from a political issue into a public health one.
“Guns and cigarettes have much in common — they both kill a lot of people,” commented Mr. Hogg. “But one is on the decline. We didn’t do that by banning cigarettes, we did it by limiting the amount of nicotine in them to make them less addictive. Same with guns.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on July 12