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Parkland Student David Hogg On The Gun Control Movement Driven By Teens


Today's March for our Lives will bring out thousands of Americans in downtown Washington, D.C., and more than 800 other cities from San Luis Obispo, Calif., to Bar Harbor, Maine. They march in response to school shootings and mass killings that happen every few weeks in the United States. The marches are a movement powered by the poise and drive of teenagers, who've lived through shootings in their school, have lost friends and teachers and are upset at what they see as the inaction of adults, especially politicians who call for thoughts and prayers but do not pass laws to reduce guns in this country. We're joined now by someone who just about become a household name - David Hogg, student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed and 17 wounded February 14 of this year. Mr. Hogg, thanks so much for being with us.

DAVID HOGG: Well, thank you for having me.

SIMON: Have you talked to a legislator in these past few weeks who is really opposed to what you say?

HOGG: I've spoken to them indirectly on the news and on Twitter.

SIMON: Yeah.

HOGG: And many of them are opposed to this, and I don't really understand why. We have five main points that we're trying to push here. The digitalization of ATF records - that we want to ensure that law enforcement has an easier time accessing these records so that they can research these individuals, while still ensuring the privacy and security of American citizens with due process and things like that. The universal background checks so that we can close the gun show loophole because right now you can purchase a firearm even in Florida at the age of 18 still, if it's private. And you don't need a background check for that.

SIMON: Despite the law that just passed?

HOGG: Yeah, exactly. It's one of the loopholes, and we have to address those - a ban on high-capacity magazines and an assault weapons ban. In all of these things have over a super majority support by most constituents. And I think it's something that if any politicians pushed in general - they would really have an easy time getting re-elected because they would be - they would show that they are practicing what they preach and that they're trying to be leaders in their own right. But right now, I think, in Washington, we're not seeing that. And that's something that has to change.

SIMON: The terrible events at your high school happened just a little over a month ago. How do you feel? Have you been so busy you haven't had the time to...?

HOGG: Yeah, it's been really hard to find time to grieve and cope with this. But I think one of the main ways that our group is doing that and I think the main way that a lot of other people now that have suddenly been affected by this - are standing up as essentially brothers and sisters in this movement that we've sadly all become part of - this family that nobody really wants to be a part of. But now we are and, we have to ensure that nobody - as few people as possible aren't part of it.

SIMON: There were people who said this week when there was an incident at a school in southern Maryland. And the assailant was apparently put down by a guard at the school. There were people who said, that shows. You have armed guards in schools - people who know what they're doing. We can cut down on school shootings. How do you feel about that?

HOGG: I think it's important to realize that law enforcement does do a very good job oftentimes of trying to ensure the safety and security of their people. But oftentimes, where they fail in communities of color and in lower socioeconomic status communities where they discriminate against these people. For instance, even in our schools. When we have more of these law enforcement officers come in, yes, they're going to help secure more students. But do we really want to turn our schools into a place where we have to have police officers and basically create a war zone?

SIMON: Mr. Hogg, what do you say to people who who say, look - these are a very admirable young people, but they are young people? And that's not how society works or should work. We ought to see a little of life before we start taking their prescriptions for what we ought to do.

HOGG: To those people I would say, I think we've seen a little of life, considering we saw the slaughter of 17 people at our school. Having to see these things again and again is more than enough life experience than we've ever wanted to have. I think saying that students don't have a right to speak out against this is disgusting because we've lived through this. Regardless of what your opinions are or where you come from, you need to realize we are the future of America. And if you choose not to stand with us, that's OK because you'll be on the wrong side of the history textbooks that we write. But if you choose to stand with us, you will be praised as standing up with the future of America. Because at the end of the day, what our generation is fighting for - not only for us, not only for the kids that are alive right now but the future of America. We can and we will outlive our opponents because they're old, and they are stuck in their old ways. We will change the face of America with or without our opponents.

SIMON: Do you have time to be a teenager?

HOGG: It depends what you define as something that's really being a teenager. For me, that's being vocal and standing up to authority and kind of being a rebel but also admiring the fact that there are people that do know more than me. But also, those people haven't lived through what I've lived through most of the time.

SIMON: David Hogg - of course, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting and one of the leaders of today's March for our Lives. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.