After receiving the news while on campus at Ohio State that 17 students had been killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, her alma mater, Raychel Edelsberg, a second-year in social work, knew that the impact would be “insurmountable” for her family.
Students Demand Action, a new student organization at Ohio State, held a vigil on Thursday at the Tom W. Davis clocktower to honor the one-year anniversary of the students who were killed in Parkland, Florida in 2018.
Mitchell Pinsky, a first-year in public management, leadership and policy as well as founder of the Ohio State chapter of Students Demand Action, said the club’s main priorities are to advocate for increased gun control and spread awareness of the detrimental impact of gun violence.
“I want people to remember the 17 lives that were senselessly cut short by a madman,” Pinsky said. “If Florida’s and the nation’s gun laws were stronger — those 17 people — they would be alive right here today.”
Pinsky said Students Demand Action is a subsidiary of Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization formed in 2014 that encompasses several groups that advocate for gun reform.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, there are an average of around 36,000 gun deaths by intent each year, and around 100,000 gun injuries by intent, which is something Pinsky said he hopes Students Demand Action can work to eliminate.
Emily Underation, internship coordinator for the John Glenn School of Public Affairs and adviser of Students Demand Action, said the club participated in a panel to discuss gun violence and is planning to engage in other advocacy events like “statehouse days,” where students will lobby elected officials for gun reform legislation.
Underation said civil discourse around gun reform has become increasingly important because more young people than ever have been impacted by gun violence.
“When you’re 18 years old and coming out of high school and you grow up in a world where you see people your age getting shot and killed in their high schools, you kind of grow up a little bit differently than the rest of us,” Underation said.
Underation said although the younger generation has experienced trauma because of events like the Parkland shooting, she hopes they will be able to turn their tragedies into advocacy.
“I think what I’m most excited about for SDA specifically is that students will be able to use their experiences and voices to make change and create conversations around this problem that maybe someone who’s a 65-year-old legislator who never experienced this in high school wouldn’t understand,” Underation said.
Although Edelsberg will be forever impacted by the shooting in Parkland, she said it’s important for students to do everything they can to prevent future tragedies.
“I’m a firm believer in the next generation doing more than current generations, so advocacy is super huge,” Edelsberg said. “When more people find their voices and advocate for what they’re passionate about, I think that change can occur.”