Parkland Survivors Unveil 'Bold' Plan to Curb Gun Violence: 'A Public Health Emergency'

Greg Hanlon

The student activists who survived last year’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., have put forward a set of proposals to curb gun violence ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

“A Peace Plan for a Safer America” was posted online by March for Our Lives, the gun violence prevention organization founded by survivors of the Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. The plan calls gun violence “a national public health emergency” and outlines steps the U.S. government should take to address the epidemic.

One proposal is to “raise the national standard for gun ownership” by implementing a national licensing and registry system and raising the age of owning a gun from 18 to 21. The Parkland shooter was 19.

The plan also calls for a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and “other weapons of war.”

“It’s simple,” the plan states. “Weapons of war that enable more casualties during mass shootings should not be allowed on our streets and in our communities. We’ve debated this for decades and it’s time to get it done.”

The plan would also implement a national gun buy-back program with the goal of reducing the number of firearms in circulation by about 30 percent. According to the Global Small Arms Survey, a project of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, there are more than 393 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, meaning there are more guns than people.

David Hogg (center left) and Cameron Kasky (center right) announce a voter registration drive ahead of the 2018 election

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Another goal of the plan: To reduce by 50 percent the rate of gun deaths in the Unites States. Every day, approximately 100 Americans are killed with guns and hundreds more are shot and injured, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2016 study by the American Journal of Medicinefound that Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed by gun violence than people in other high-income countries.

RELATED: Life After Parkland: How 6 Survivors Are Healing in the Aftermath of Horror

To this end, calls for the appointment of a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention, which will focus on educating Americans about the dangers of guns, suicide prevention and mental health, among other initiatives. 

The plan also calls for the creation of the “Safety Corps,” based on the Peace Corps. People ages 16 to 25 would be eligible.

RELATED: Parkland Dad Gathers ‘Incomplete’ Items Left Behind by Victims to Show Devastation of Gun Violence

“Over the next 10 years, this new domestic program will put 10,000 young people per year to work on paid, one-year engagements in communities and non-profits around the country,” the plan states.

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A critical part of the holistic plan would be empowering young people at the ballot box and encouraging turnout by implementing automatic voter registration the moment Americans turn 18 years old.

“The more we participate in our civic process, the more effective we will be at reducing the impact of gun violence on the next generation,” the plan states.

Parkland survivors were active at the ballot box ahead of the 2018 midterms, when March for Our Lives went on a multi-state bus tour to register voters.

Mark Wilson/Getty

RELATED: Parkland Massacre Survivors Announce Summer Bus Tour to Register Voters — with Goal to Reduce Gun Violence

“Our generation and the many generations that are helping us can change the game,” Parkland survivor and March for Our Lives co-founder Cameron Kasky said at the time. “We don’t have to surrender to dirty, awful politics. We can make it better. And the best way to do that is to vote.”

Another Parkland survivor, Tyah-Amoy Roberts, who is on the March for Our Lives board of directors, told The Washington Post that the peace plan is “bold. It’s nothing like anyone else is proposing. We are really setting audacious goals.”

The announcement of the plan comes weeks after 31 people were killed in high-profile mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. In the weeks after those attacks, police have made at least 27 arrests over threats to commit mass shootings, reports CNN. While many of them may have been hoaxes and jokes, NBC News reports that police in at least four cities have thwarted credible potential attacks.

RELATED: How to Spot Warning Signs of Potential Mass Shooters, After Spate of Arrests for Threats

David Hogg, another Parkland survivor who co-founded March for Our Lives, told the Post, “I think similarly to a lot of the country, I’m in a lot of pain right now. You see these shootings on TV every day and very little happening around it. It’s painful to watch. And I think it’s been really hard for me and many of the other students and people that we work with to find hope in this time.”

But he added, “I think that this plan is something that we can truly — as a country and as Americans united against violence and fighting for peace — can get behind.”