A Parkland student’s moving plea for gun control

Updated Feb 23, 2018
  • By Hannah Karcinell
  • Special to The Palm Beach Post
Hannah Karcinell spoke to community residents Tuesday at the South Olive Community Center in West Palm Beach. (Tony Doris / The Palm Beach Post)

Hannah Karcinell, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, came to a forum at South Olive Comunity Center in West Palm Beach Tuesday to speak about the massacre that killed 14 of her classmates and three faculty members, and to call for action. Here’s her speech:

Wednesday morning as I drove to school, I sang along to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”

“Mother, mother, there’s too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying. War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate.”

I listened to this song not knowing how relevant it would become to what my classmates, teachers and I went through later in the day.

What’s going on? Why is money from the NRA more important to legislators than the lives of children? Children should not have to fear going to school and getting an education. They should not have to worry about if they are going to be killed during history class.

We always say we give our condolences and we give our thoughts and prayers to families and friends. Aren’t you tired of giving your condolences and thoughts and prayers?

When are we going to give gun laws to prevent something like this from occurring so we no longer have to give these thoughts and prayers?

Thoughts and prayers are great but thoughts and prayers are not enough. Thoughts and prayers are too late. Thoughts and prayers are not going to change anything.

Legislators, you need to do something. We need change. We cannot allow this to keep happening. ENOUGH is ENOUGH.

I’ve heard some people say that we shouldn’t politicize the event. That we should let the families and friends grieve.

Wanting to save lives should not be a political stance, it should be a stance of morality. The families and friends are grieving and they are angry. They want gun reform. When are we going to act? When the next shooting occurs?

A boy that I laughed with in my room and listened to music with. A boy that our whole government class congratulated on getting signed to the University of Indianapolis. We called him the next Michael Phelps. A boy that wanted to be in the Olympics is gone, due to gun violence.

A boy from Venezuela that just became a U.S. citizen. A boy who was going to graduate early. A boy who Mr. Osher, one of the teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, said had the guts to say what other students weren’t brave enough to. A boy who had dreams and plans is now gone because of gun violence and so many more are gone, their dreams shattered, because of gun violence.

We need a change. We refuse to let this keep happening. We refuse to have more lives lost because of legislators who don’t care about people being murdered.

We refuse to be bystanders. We want gun control and we want it now. And you cannot tell me that gun control does not work or that people will still find a way to get guns. And you can’t say that it’s a mental health problem.

Mental illness is global, mass shootings are American.

We are a team. We are Douglas Strong and WE WILL MAKE A CHANGE.

For all of the victims of gun violence, whether it be victims of a mass shooting or of another form of gun violence: THIS MUST END.