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'We're Only Teenagers, We're Not The Ones That Should Have To Make The Change'

They are an impressive group, these kids.
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This is a remarkable interview, because these teenage kids from Parkland are more thoughtful and intelligent than most spokespeople you see on cable news. They're articulate, focused, and direct -- which is what you see when kids are properly and thoroughly educated. They have critical thinking skills, and they're using them to address gun control. They have already accomplished more in a few weeks than most people have done in years -- and they're not done yet.

Rachel Maddow introduced them last night by talking about the handwritten letter the shooting survivors received from Barack and Michelle Obama.

"Now, in just a few days, on Saturday, more than 500,000 are expected at a rally in Washington, D.C. with another 800 satellite demonstrations," Maddow said. "Students of Parkland came up with the idea and have been the driving force behind it, this March For Our Lives, this week. Joining us now are three students of Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High. Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin, and Sarah Chadwick, thank you all for being here. i'm honored to meet you, all three of you.

MADDOW: So let me ask you, first, about the compliment from the former president and the former First Lady. I know you heard it from not just them. but a lot of people feel like you're sort of not just impressive, you're sort of the hope. I wonder if that feels not just good, I wonder if it feels like pressure.

EMMA GONZALEZ: His letter is appreciated. He's shown so much respect that current politicians have not shown. We all have hope because we've seen it from kids younger than us, also I think our generation is going to be the change because we grew up with it we're not going to let future generations grow up with it also.

SARAH CHADWICK: At the same time, it's really stressful. We have all the pressure on our shoulders to make a change and we're only teenagers. We're not the ones that should have to make the change, it should be politicians. But now we have to make sure we get it done.


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MADDOW: The reason that pressure is on you guys is because you earned it in a way. It's not an automatic thing that kids who are survivors of some tragedy like what happened at your school are then expected to become leaders of a national movement. You did that yourselves in the way that you decided to respond. I want some insight into how that happened and why your school is the place it came out that way.

GONZALEZ: It kind of started with David (Hogg). He pushed for speaking with Fox, anyone who would listen, anyone who was at the school, he just kept the door open enough for the rest of us to show up. He gave people's names and Cameron showed up and Alex showed up. and everyone who's a part of the movement now is there. We decided we know how this is going to end up. We know the politicians are going to say 'thoughts and prayers,' they'll say those words, and that's all they're going to do. We want it to stop. It's time to break the pattern. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and getting the same result. If they think there are people who are quote, unquote, crazy, they don't deserve guns. And people that claim that thoughts and prayers, and that the Second Amendment is more important than children's lives, they should get a background check.

JACLYN CORIN: And communities like Parkland are close. Orlando and Los Angeles, it wasn't a centralized location. That's something we had. We grew up with amazing teachers and amazing faculty, wecan thank our teachers and faculty, that we have the voices they helped to create to make the change.

MADDOW: There have been unexpected changes. i say unexpected in terms of policy since you guys started this movement. There were changes in Florida law, signed into law by a governor previously bragging about his A plus rating by the NRA. In the bill going forward are things like including the CDC being allowed to study gun violence as a public health matter. These are things people have been fighting for for a long time and with a Republican held Congress and president, It felt doubly impossible. So with those happening, does that give you satisfaction, do you know how this sustains and how you move forward?

CHADWICK: It's a baby step toward the right direction. We're pushing for gun reform, in the bills we haven't seen that. We're thankful we've gotten done what we've gotten done. It's only been a little more than a month, but this is more than we've seen politicians make in this time. We're thankful for the baby steps. It's not enough, in our opinion.

CORIN: And we do want to address the fact that Rick Scott defied the lobby group he's endorsed by with the new bill. But that might not have happened if he wasn't running for reelection. And we need to address that. Because people do want to get reelected, they want to sit in their term and get re-elected. We do understand it's a step in the right direction but not enough now.

MADDOW: What's it like to be personally the focus of so much negative attention? I opened up by talking about the admiration expressed to you by the former president and First Lady. I know on this network that leans more to the left has been about being impressed by your activism and what you've been able to accomplish. I know there have been a lot of personal attacks. Emma, I know you've been singled out. How are you coping?

GONZALEZ: It's not hard to cope with. It's 'that was funny, let's move on.' Let's make a joke. Most of us don't take it personally because at the end of the day, it's -- it's a stupid comment. We don't need to dignify it with a response. And when we want to dignify it with a response, we're going to make it funny. That's the best way we can deal with the stuff.

CORIN: It's comical because they criticize us as individuals rather than what we're actually preaching because they can't see a fault in what we're saying, so they have to go after us directly.

MADDOW: One on one, has it created any tension among you? There's a fluid group and a lot of leaders. as it goes forward you have to decide what you're doing individually. You're here together. Has it created tension?

GONZALEZ: I don't think there's really any tension, other than like 'You ate my muffin?', common day-in the-workplace, spit spats. But at the end of the day we're going to end up on the couch watching 'The Office' to calm down from what happened recently.

CHADWICK: Even though we're everywhere, we're never in the same city, which is kind of mind blowing. We're in Washington, New York, L.A., Parkland. Somehow we manage to keep in touch with each other really well and we do organize with each other really well, even though we're apart for so long. Some of us haven't seen members of our group in weeks. It's crazy, but we're still in touch and we still organize.

MADDOW: I wish you success, I wish you resilience, the continuing and lifelong ability to laugh at people who use opinions you don't care about and who share them with you anyway.

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