MUMS student pens prize-winning essay on Emma Gonzaléz

Local students received recognition this year for the essays they submitted to Hildene’s Lincoln Essay Competition. Ainsleigh Johnson, an 8th grader at Middlebury Union Middle School, received first prize for her essay on March for Our Lives activist Emma Gonzalez for Region Three, which includes Addison, Rutland and Bennington Counties. Olivia Campbell of Mt. Abraham Union Middle/High School in Bristol, garnered an Honorable Meniton for her essay. Johnson’s essay follows.
Emma González: Leading the March for Our Lives
Emma González is a nineteen-year-old advocate for gun control. As a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in 2018, Ms. González survived a school shooting that took the lives of seventeen of her classmates and teachers. Only days later, she delivered a speech at a rally in Fort Lauderdale that she began by honoring the people killed in the shooting, and ended by chastising politicians who “say that tougher gun laws do not prevent gun violence”.
Right now in America, ninety-six people die each day from gun violence. On average, there is over one mass shooting every day. Many states do not require background checks when purchasing a gun, and there are more guns in America than people. Despite claims from some that better gun control would not change these statistics, a look at other countries tells a very different story. For example, Australia has had only one mass shooting since 1996, when they introduced tighter gun control, which amounts to less than 0.5% of all mass shootings in America in 2018 alone. Japan, Israel, and South Korea have similar laws to Australia, and they are ranked as some of the safest countries in the world in terms of gun violence. González’s mission is to achieve stricter gun laws in America, and therefore decrease gun violence.
Since the shooting, González co-founded Never Again MSD (a group advocating for stricter gun-violence legislation), toured the United States, and co-organized the March for Our Lives event. In speeches, articles, and interviews, she voiced her beliefs about the need for gun reform, comprehensive background checks for gun buyers, banning high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic assault rifles, and criticized politicians who accept donations from the National Rifle Association. She also helped register many people to vote and encouraged them to vote for politicians who support gun control, exemplifying Abraham Lincoln’s belief that “the ballot is stronger than the bullet”.
By working to make our country safer, Emma González is a prime example of how young people can change the world. González consistently shows character traits such as dedication by working nonstop to organize events like the 2018 March on Washington, and resilience, by fighting for her beliefs in the face of harsh criticism. As a student who recently faced the threat of school gun violence, I was inspired by her to take action in my own community by writing to the local newspaper and organizing a school protest. In a nation fraught with gun violence, Emma González is a confident young woman whose leadership and persistence serve as a constant lesson to speak up for what you think is right.

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