Our Opinion: How can anyone accuse the victims of the Parkland shooting of something so horrible?

We’ve written the beginning to this opinion piece so many times that it’s beginning to become routine: it’s happened again. On Valentine’s Day, 17 students and teachers lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a crazed student opened fire with an AR-15. We all know the succession of the chain of events by now: people take to Facebook first with their thoughts and prayers, and then begin arguing about gun control. It’s the same old story. However, something different happened this time: the victims said, “Enough is enough.”

Over the past week and a half since the shooting, led by the survivors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, students all across the nation have been staging walkouts and rallies to demand that lawmakers do something to prevent this from happening again. For most normal people, it’s inspiring, saddening, and frustrating to see students on television and the Internet begging the people in charge to pass legislation that could possible save their lives. There are some people, however, who have stooped to a new low: accusing the students at the Parkland High School of being “crisis actors,” put in the limelight by Democratic lawmakers to push an anti-gun agenda. It is our opinion that the assertion of this conspiracy theory is totally and absolutely deplorable.

Think about this for a moment: these students leading rallies watched their friends and teachers die less than two weeks ago. They hid under desks, behind walls, listening to a hail of gunfire, no doubt wondering if they would make it out alive. After being lucky enough to survive, they’re on TV reliving that moment every day for the sake of ensuring this never happens again, and some people, including a Florida legislator’s aide, have the audacity to suggest that these kids are liars.

Can you imagine being those students? Can you imagine surviving such a horrifying event and then having adults around the country, including some of those who are supposed to protect you, slander and discredit you in that way? It is sick and wrong, and there is absolutely no place for that type of conspiracy theorizing when it comes to this issue. None at all.

As Americans, we need to wake up and take a lesson from these kids: we have to fight for what we believe in, because we clearly can’t rely on lawmakers to do it. They proved that after 20 first graders were slaughtered in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary, and nobody did anything. It is now up to us to make the people who are supposed to represent us actually represent us.

So, to the students leading this movement: keep doing what you’re doing. Stand up and be loud until they can’t ignore you any longer. And to the people accusing these students of being actors, and negating and invalidating their suffering: crawl back into whatever hole out of which you came.