Cameron Kasky is a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The 17-year-old student and his brother, Holden, survived the shooting that occurred at the school on February 14.
Kasky has taken a stand against gun violence and has created a movement in hopes of changing the way that guns are made available to the public. The movement, called #NeverAgain, is meant to take a stand against gun violence and offers students, many of whom are too young to vote, a voice in the ongoing gun debate.
“I’m just a high school student, and I do not pretend to have all of the answers. However, even in my position, I can see that there is desperate need for change — change that starts by folks showing up to the polls and voting all those individuals who are in the back pockets of gun lobbyists out of office,” he wrote in a post published by CNN.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Asked Marco Rubio if He’d Agree to Not Accept Money From the NRA in a Town Hall Held on February 21
On February 21, Kasky participated in a Town Hall held in Sunrise, Florida. He asked Senator Marco Rubio if he’d agree to not accept money from the NRA, to which Rubio said “no.” You can watch Kasky’s interaction with Marco Rubio in the video above.
In a candid post written for CNN, Kasky talked about how a normal school day turned into a nightmare. He also wrote about his feelings on gun control and why he thinks it’s important that lawmakers act swiftly.
“The shooter is not the only one responsible for this tragedy. While the alleged shooter may have had several issues, he also lived in a society where Sen. Marco Rubio refuses to take responsibility for the role gun culture may have played in this tragedy,” Kasky wrote.
“And there is no denying that the NRA continues to donate millions of dollars to politicians at every level of government. Then those politicians — often ‘family values’ conservatives — rile up their base by making them think that “liberals” are going to take their guns away. Not knowing any better, some of these people stockpile guns in advance of a gun ban that never comes, and the gun manufacturers and the NRA make millions,” he added.
Just two days after the shooting at Stoneham Douglas, Kasky was interviewed by Anderson Cooper. You can watch that interview in the video below.
On February 21, Kasky tweeted that he deactivated his Facebook account because he was getting “death threats from NRA cultists.”
“Temporarily got off Facebook because there’s no character count so the death threats from the
@NRA cultists are a bit more graphic than those on twitter. Will be back when I have the time for it. Busy getting my feelings hurt by fellow teenagers at Br**tb*rt,” he wrote.
2. He Founded the #NeverAgain Movement & Has Teamed Up With Other Students Along the Way
Kasky founded the #NeverAgain movement, which calls for stricter background checks for people who want to purchase firearms.
Kasky teamed up with a few of his friends, including Alfonso Calderon. They reached out to other students, like Jaclyn Corin, the junior-class president at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and began sharing ideas and thoughts to get #NeverAgain off the ground.
Within days, Kasky joined forces with several other students, including David Hogg, a reporter for the school paper, Sarah Chadwick, who posted a tweet about President Trump that ended up going viral, and Emma Gonzalez, who gave an empowering speech in Fort Lauderdale days after the shooting.
The video below shows Kasky, Hoggs, Corin, Gonzalez, and Alex Wind on Meet the Press.
3. He Started a GoFundMe for ‘March for Our Lives’ & Has Raised More Than $1 Million
There is a nationwide protest planned for March 24, in which students all over the country are expected to walk out of their schools in an effort to raise additional awareness about gun control. These students are hoping to foster a bigger conversation on potential firearm legislation in order to prevent future American tragedies.
The biggest protest, perhaps, will be on the streets of Washington D.C. Students and their families are expected to come together in an effort to end gun violence. The ultimate goal is to end mass shootings, especially in schools.
“Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives. March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now,” reads the March of Our Lives mission statement, in part.
In an effort to raise money for the upcoming march, Kasky has created a GoFundMe campaign with a $2 million goal. In just four days, more than $1.2 million has been raised.
“The funds will be spent on the incredibly difficult and expensive process that is organizing a march like this. We have people making more specific plans, but for now know that this is for the march and everything left over will be going to the victims’ funds,” reads the GoFundMe description.
A line of shirts has also been created in an effort to raise money for the cause.
4. His Brother, Holden, Is Autistic
Kasky is very close to his brother, Holden, who has autism. Kasky had left drama class on February 14, to go pick up his brother from a special needs classroom before going home for the afternoon, but their afternoon plans were changed in the blink of an eye.
Kasky recalled what happened in his post for CNN.
“Toward the end of the day, I went to pick up my little brother Holden from the special needs classroom. As we exited the school, the fire alarm went off. And as we retreated to the parking lot, per fire drill procedure, we were told to run back inside. It was very confusing, especially since I was surrounded by special needs students. But the truth is, nobody really knew what was going on. We huddled in a room, listening to terrifying noises we couldn’t quite identify, and spent an hour plagued by uncontrolled anxiety … waiting for answers. Waiting for somebody to either come in and shoot us or come in and tell us everything was going to be OK,” he wrote.
He went on to tell the Sun-Sentinel that he “didn’t let go of [his brother] for an hour and a half.” He had to calmly explain to Holden that they needed to stay crouched in the classroom.
“I told him, ‘Look, Holden, we’re going to be here for awhile,'” Kasky recalled.
Cameron and Holden’s dad, Jeff Kasky, told the Sun-Sentinel that he feels “fortunate” that his sons are alive.
“We consider ourselves very fortunate to be together right now.”
5. He’s a Theater Kid & Is Working With Many of His Friends From His School’s Drama Club
Before he became an activist, Kasky was a typical theater kid, heavily involved in his school’s drama club. In fact, he teamed up with several of his drama club friends to get the #NeverAgain movement off the ground.
He has described himself as a “class clown,” telling The New Yorker, “I’m a talker. The only thing I’ve had this whole time is the fact that I never shut up.”
Given this, it’s easy to understand why Kasky found it so easy to speak up about what was bothering him after the shooting at his school occurred. He started on a smaller level, sharing his thoughts on his Facebook page.
“Can’t sleep. Thinking about so many things. So angry that I’m not scared or nervous anymore . . . I’m just angry. I just want people to understand what happened and understand that doing nothing will lead to nothing. Who’d have thought that concept was so difficult to grasp?” he wrote in one post.
His social media posts gained attention on a national level, and he was invited to write a piece for CNN. He then decided to brainstorm with a few of his closest friends, inviting them to his house to figure out a plan of action.
Kasky told The New Yorker that he was “sitting on the toilet in [his] Ghostbuster pajamas” when he came up with the slogan, #NeverAgain.