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David and Lauren Hogg never thought it would happen in Parkland. Now they say #NeverAgain

It’s been almost six months since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed. But out of that tragedy emerged a group of students dedicated to preventing future school shootings, including David and Lauren Hogg. Hari Sreenivasan recently spoke with them about their movement and new book, “#NeverAgain.”

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  • William Brangham:

    It’s been six months since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed that day.

    But out of that tragedy came a group of students dedicated to preventing future school shootings.

    Two of those students, David and Lauren Hogg, describe their experience in a new book, “#NeverAgain. A New Generation Draws the Line.”

    Hari Sreenivasan recently spoke with them about their movement, and he began with the days immediately following the tragedy.

  • Lauren Hogg:

     I know, for me, I never thought I would go through anything like this.

    But those first couple days, you would think it would be so painful, and it was, but, if anything, it was more my whole community was numb. We were numb. We didn’t feel anything. And that is almost worse than feeling something, because being numb is awful.

    I think it’s worse than actually hurting, because you’re just so in shock that you don’t know why you aren’t feeling grief yet. And that was the worst part of grieving so far.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

     And, David, you said one of the reasons that — of your response was your inability to help her.

  • David Hogg:

     Yes.

    To have somebody so close to you like, my sister is to me, and hear them cry that much, to the point they can’t even speak for days on end, and I can’t do anything about it, other than just try to prevent other people from having to live through the same experience and cry the same tears and go through the same suffering, I couldn’t just stand around and do nothing.

    I felt that I had to speak up for those that couldn’t at the time. The people that you see on TV, they aren’t characters. They aren’t numbers. They’re people. They’re friends. They’re daughters. They’re sons. They’re parents. And they’re suffering.

    It’s the same suffering you can go through if we don’t take action to end this.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

     Your advocacy has also made you and your entire family targets. You have been called tons of names on the Internet, a crisis actor, part of a false flag operation, coached by liberals, etc.

    You have managed to laugh some of it off. You have targeted advertisers from very influential critics.

    What’s worked best to get you through this?

  • David Hogg:

     Laughing it off really, and being around my family and friends and having their support, knowing that what I’m doing is not trying to take people’s gun, because I wouldn’t want to do that.

    On a personal level, I wouldn’t like somebody that’s trying to do that, because I believe in the Second Amendment. I just believe in commonsense regulation.

    For example, you used to be able to smoke anywhere in public. However, people can still smoke. They can go out and drink if they’re not going to drive.

    There are ways to approach this where people’s guns aren’t taken away, and lives are saved. It’s really common sense.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

     David, one of the things that you mention in the book is there is a certain — you know, part of this reason that people are paying attention to this is that you are, you know, white middle-class kids in Florida, that this has happened before to lots of people, and it’s continuing to happen, right?

    And you point out that — in the book that there’s a disproportionate impact that gun violence has on poorer communities.

  • David Hogg:

     Absolutely.

    I have now been to the South Side of Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri, and the one thing that amazed me most in both places was the strength and resilience and just honest love and compassion these people have for each other and their community.

    And it’s so saddening to see the amount of suffering that they have had to go through. Since the beginning of this school year on the South Side of Chicago, over 150 kids, kids just like you were or I was or my sister is, killed under the age of 21.

    And their voices aren’t heard. In the media and in law enforcement, if you live on a block where there are gangs, even if you aren’t part of that gang, you get shot, it’s automatically attributed to gang violence.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

     Lauren, one of the things you and your brother write about in the book is that this is a generation that’s grown up after Columbine, that you have had red alert drills your entire life, that somehow we have normalized this behavior.

  • Lauren Hogg:

     I was born after Columbine. I was 9 when Sandy Hook happened. I have grown up waking up every morning, it seems like, and seeing these things on the news.

    And the thing is, I never realized before this affected me that these aren’t things that just happen. These things shouldn’t be happening. And that’s one of our main issues with this problem, is that we have grown accustomed to it as a nation.

  • Woman:

    We are coming on the air at this hour with news of a school shooting in South Florida.

  • Lauren Hogg:

     And until it happens to you, you don’t think it’s real. You don’t think it’s ever going to happen to you, unless you live in some of these communities.

    But that’s the problem. I have grown up, like you said, growing through code red drills like every other month. And I thought it was normal. It’s like I never really thought, I’m sitting in this corner because there’s a chance that somebody might come to my school and murder me.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

     Speaking of sitting in the corner, while you were there in that room with your friends waiting for the all-clear sign, one of the quotes that stood out to you and to me was, you spoke to a woman that said, “I even texted my sisters. ‘Shooting at my school. I am safe.’ They both responded with, ‘OMG, LOL. You are funny.'”

  • David Hogg:

     Yes.

    We’re to the point in this country where people actually joke about school shootings. That — it’s almost like our coping mechanism in this country, because it’s dark humor, because it happens so often.

    Having one school shooting a week should not be normal.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

     You have had several legislative victories since you guys have started this.

    You had a march where people all over the world took part. It’s part of the national conversation, but how do you keep this momentum going?

  • David Hogg:

     The sad thing is, even if Lauren and I just completely stopped right now, there’s still going to be more mass shootings. There’s still going to be people dying every day on American streets because our politicians refuse to take action.

    They refuse. They want to sit back in their complacency and take money from the NRA.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

     How are you going to measure your success in the long term? Is it about getting people that you want into office in this midterm election? Are you playing a kind of longer part?

  • David Hogg:

     I think getting people into office that are morally just.

    But I’m not talking Democrats or Republicans here. I’m talking Americans that are not politicians, but are human beings. For God’s sake, the best way for people to understand what it’s like to go through these situations or to have — lose somebody that they know to gun violence is close your eyes and imagine the person that you love most that you hold closest to you, and how much you love them.

    And now imagine that person is murdered, and you can’t do anything about it. And when you speak to your politicians, they say, “I’m sorry, but we can’t do anything about it.”

    And then when you speak the people, they don’t care, because they didn’t know them.

    America needs to learn empathy and put themselves in each other’s shoes.

  • Lauren Hogg:

     When politicians put children and love and happiness over their pocketbooks, I think that’s when times are really going to begin to change.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

     I think the saddest part about this book is, that at the end, you chronicle, from Columbine onward, so many different school shootings that have happened, but that the worst part is that Parkland wasn’t the last one.

    Even since then, there have been multiple. So how do you tackle something like that? Obviously, we want to get to an era where that doesn’t ever happen.

  • David Hogg:

    I think larger than getting just the right people into office and getting more people to vote, these movements have to be a cultural shift in America, where we don’t accept these things like gun violence, we don’t accept our children dying every day on our streets.

    In the book, I look at myself long and hard. I’m very honest about my past. I think America has to do the same thing, but about where we are right now. That will fix it.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    David Hogg, Lauren Hogg, thank you both.

  • Lauren Hogg:

    Thank you.

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