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"I will be living with this psychological damage for the rest of my life," says Florida school shooting survivor

Amy Bronzwaig, 17, explains how she plans to ensure that the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School results in lasting change.
Amy Bronzwaig is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Victoria Seltzer writes on a makeshift memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in memory of the 17 people that were killed on February 14, 2018. Crédito: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

My name is Amy Bronzwaig and I am a 17-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

My parents are from Mexico City and immigrated to the United States in 1997 for a better life. I was born in San Diego, California, and I lived there for 16 years until my family and I moved to Florida over a year-and-a-half ago. After much research of other communities in the area, my parents decided to move to Parkland because it was supposed to be the safest place for our family.

But last week, I found myself running for my life with many other Douglas students. That horrible Wednesday, which others may know as Valentine’s Day, was supposed to be a day of love. But instead, this man, Nikolas Cruz, displayed evil and hate in ways beyond imaginable.

While I was fortunate enough to escape without any physical harm, I, like the rest of my schoolmates and teachers, will be living with this psychological damage for the rest of my life. I can easily say that February 14, 2018, was the worst and most terrifying day of my entire life.

I will never forget calling my mom, while running away and hearing gunshots, and telling her that I loved her because I didn’t know what was happening and if I was even going to make it out alive.

He took something from every single one of us that day; he took away our sense of safety. Not only are we afraid to go back to school, a place where we are supposed to learn and gain an education, but we are also afraid to go anywhere else in fear that we will be forced to go through a repeat.

While the shooter may have individually targeted Stoneman Douglas, he hurt and attacked the entire community of Parkland. My community has come together in ways that I could have never imagined. We are blessed to have had such amazing first responders that went into a situation that people were running away from with the goal of saving lives. To all the first responders I would like to say thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for everything that you did on that terrible day. You made me feel safer in my darkest hour and I could never thank you all enough. I would also like to thank the teachers that were near me when panic struck for keeping all of us calm and guiding us to safety when you all wanted to break down and cry just like the rest of us.

Our community of Parkland has supported each other through our toughest times and have used this tragedy to fight for change to ensure that no one else will ever have to feel the way that we did on Wednesday afternoon. The only way to prevent this from happening again is to create change! There was no reason why the shooter should have legally obtained a semi-automatic weapon. We need to enforce stricter gun regulations and mental health background checks. Even if we save one life it will be worth it.

As Americans, we rely on our government to keep us safe but in this specific situation they failed us. Multiple sources were notified months before about the threats that Nikolas Cruz posed, but did not do enough about it. The government is too focused on protecting our Second Amendment right that they lose sight of protecting American lives.

I am inspired by this to make a change that will last forever. I have wanted to be involved in law since eighth grade and I had realized in the past few years that I want for fight for minorities. But after Wednesday afternoon I knew why I survived: to help make sure that gun regulations are put in place as well as continue my fight for minority rights. I understand that this change will not happen immediately but I will not stop trying until it finally happens, even if that means years and years from now.

Next year my fellow Douglas seniors and I will be able to vote and have the ability to influence democracy on a larger scale and I hope start seeing some change regarding gun control laws. I am planning to go to Florida State University to study political science starting this summer term, and there I will put my focus on helping and enforcing the Never Again campaign. I plan to go with a group to Tallahassee next week with many other Douglas students to meet with some of the most influential political leaders in the state of Florida to talk about gun control laws. I will be doing everything I can as a member of the Never Again campaign, whether that be emotional support to survivors or making sure people hear our voices and ideas.

We cannot allow this shooting to become just another statistic. Instead we have to honor those who we lost and those whose lives were forever changed because it would be an injustice to them if we don’t make a change in their honor!