Sixteen months ago, a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and opened fire.
He killed 17 people and injured 17 others.
David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez were among the students who survived the shooting. They’ve since turned the tragedy into an opportunity to advocate for gun violence awareness around the United States.
On Tuesday, they came to speak at the University of South Florida College of Public Health about the reality of gun violence and how students can get involved in combating it.
Hogg said one way to do so is to become a gun violence researcher.
"We want to help encourage kids to go into the world of gun violence prevention and not be saviors for people who are affected by gun violence, but to study the laws that work, the programs that work and the systems that can be implemented to reduce intimate partner violence, suicide and all forms of gun violence,” he said.
The pair helped to organize the March for our Lives, the largest student protest in American history that took place in cities across the country in March 2018.
Speaking to about 100 Public Health students and others in attendance, Hogg said gun violence has to be treated as a public health issue, not a political one. He said he doesn’t exclusively endorse Democrats or Republicans, but rather leaders who support gun violence awareness.
Hogg and Gonzalez said treating trauma is very important after a person experiences violence. They said violence occurs in a cyclical pattern, and not getting professional help after an incident can cause people to harm themselves or others.
The former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students said they are trying to do whatever they can to prevent other students from experiencing the same horrific event they did.
“One of the things that I’m very passionate about is fighting for people to live safely in this country,” Gonzalez said. “When it comes to making people feel better and when it comes to preventing death, it’s up to us to help prevent that in our country’s future.”