Dear Editor:

I am an alumna of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Class of 2011. The mass shooting that caused the death of 17 students and faculty from my hometown of Parkland, Florida, was felt throughout the nation. No child should ever have to endure the trauma, fear and pain that the students and families of MSD are currently experiencing. It’s hard to reconcile with such a senseless and horrific act, but it’s especially jarring when it happens in your own community. Parkland is a quiet suburban town with a population of 30,000 people. Prior to Feb. 14, Parkland was unidentifiable to even Florida residents.

I want to thank columnist Mary O’Brien for joining the Stoneman Douglas movement in “calling BS” in regards to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s statement that we cannot have a “knee-jerk reaction before having all of the facts and data” (“When more facts and data aren’t needed,” Feb. 22-28, 2018 Moab Sun News). Mary highlighted the hypocrisy in Paul Ryan’s response and proved that in reality, we have a world of facts on gun-related violence in the U.S. And with this shooting at MSD becoming the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history, a reaction, more so a fight, is what we need most.

In light of these events, I am proud of the articulate and impassioned students from MSD that have channeled their anger into productive conversation on gun control. I, along with Mary O’Brien and the students of Parkland, am fueled to move the conversation forward and to encourage others to do so. We can no longer be complacent, and “thoughts and prayers” are not enough. Legislators are now discussing implementing red flag gun laws and raising the legal age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21. But as MSD student Ryan Deitsch stated while addressing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, these actions are like “a first step in a 5K run.”

In order to prevent another mass shooting like the one in Parkland, we must implement changes on multiple levels including breaking political ties with the NRA, updating background check systems/elimination of the gun show loophole, increasing mental health care reform and banning assault weapons from civilian use.

So what can we do? Though this fight is being spearheaded in Florida, there are many things we can do to participate, right here in Moab. First – please consider donating to the victims and families of MSD through Also, register to vote in the mid-term elections, and encourage others to do so as well. Only 12 percent of young adults vote in the mid-terms. This November, let’s elect officials who will fight first and foremost for gun law reform. Last, join me on March 24 for the March for Our Lives in Denver to push for increased gun control and school safety measures.

We are more than thoughts and prayers. It is time for us to act.