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SHS Student Attends Flower in the Gun Festival

art1This article was submitted by SHS Junior Jordy Love: Last week I had the privilege of attending the Flower in the Gun festival in Ft. Lauderdale, an event to raise awareness about gun violence. The festival was jointly organized by U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch, artist Adam Dolle, and activist Gail Schwartz of Ban Assault Weapons Now, who lost her nephew in the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

US Representative Ted Deutch represents Florida’s 22nd congressional district and has been committed to passing sensible gun violence prevention legislation to keep all citizens safe. The spoken word artists who performed were students who survived the Parkland massacre and moved the entire audience with their poetic accounts. Musician Michael Franti performed his song, “The Flower,” which he co-wrote to be an anthem for the movement to end gun violence. Franti’s video displays families and individuals from across the country who were affected by gun violence which touches every corner and every walk of life. Franti became involved in gun violence awareness when he noticed bullet holes in the walls in his home and found a bullet in an adjacent room. He was fortunate to be away when the stray bullet made its way through his home but realized the need to take action. Franti hopes this song helps others to see that all people, no matter what walk of life, or political perspective, gun owner or not, has a role to play in reducing the number of gun deaths in the country each day.

The festival showcased a collection of artwork by Adam Dolle titled “First Awakenings” centered around the theme of the roles of guns in the United States that seek to highlight the ordinariness of gun violence in everyday lives. His work displays two sides of the gun debate from in front of a gun or behind one. It is heartbreaking that stories of mass shootings, suicide, and murder have become commonplace and are heard practically every day. The statistics are shocking with 400 privately owned guns in the US, 40,000 deaths annually, 60% of those deaths from suicide, and nearly 3,000 children’s deaths attributed to guns.

The piece titled Rat-ta-tat-tat drew inspiration from the advertisement texts for toy assault rifles sold on toy stores and on Amazon.Art3 The text reads, “toy guns make a realistic RAT-TA-TAT-TAT firing sound with no batteries needed -warning: Choking Hazard Small Parts Not For Children Under 3 Years Old. This piece was meant to display how American companies value money over morality. These companies profit from toys that teach young children that gun violence is okay.

On February 13, 2019, one day before the one-year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre, the House Judiciary Committee passed legislation to expand background check requirements for firearm purchase. Congressman Deutch, led a moment of silence for the 17 victims who were killed in the shooting and said, “I ask that we work together— not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans- to end the silence with action to make all our communities safer from gun violence, I ask that this moment of silence not be in vain.” The House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the bill 23-15. Now, the bill will move on to the House floor. If this bill is enacted, it will be the most significant gun control legislation approved in the last decade.

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