“Right now, we need to focus on where we can come together, but right now we’re focusing on how we can drive each other further apart,” activist and Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky said to a crowd of University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) students.
After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School February 2018, Kasky began advocating against gun violence by co-founding the group Never Again MSD and organized the nationwide student protest March For Our Lives. He speaks regularly at events for young people and advocates for new gun control legislation and mental health awareness.
Tuesday evening, Kasky visited USFSP to talk about gun control, the lack of bipartisanship in America and the toll of being a young activist.
Kasky began by addressing the futility of banning all firearms. With 42 percent of American households as registered gun owners, an embargo on all firearms would be unrealistic. Instead, Kasky believes the purchasing of firearms should be more difficult, especially for those who might wish to do harm.
“We need stricter red flag laws, background checks and no-one under 21 should be allowed to purchase an assault rifle,” Kasky said. “I mean, if you can’t go out and get loaded, you can’t load a weapon.”
Kasky believes the lack of discourse between parties is what drives the failure to compromise.
“You can tell when someone you’re having a political conversation with wants to be constructive,” Kasky said.He continued about the social fabric of America and how Americans do not approve of others who challenge the ideologies of their own party.
During the Q&A, a USFSP student asked Kasky about the burnout of being an activist and having to speak about tragedy and loss on a regular basis.
“Activism, inherently speaking, comes with a lot of people who are in a lot of pain,” Kasky said. “Normally, when you’re an activist, that means there’s an issue that really needs to be solved. I spent all summer going around the country talking about people getting shot in the head, and I met a lot of people who shared the same tragedies. And it’s so hard being an activist talking about these things. But, if there ever comes a point when it becomes too much for you, you have to step away. You can’t let it break you.”
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