(CBS Local)– It’s been just over three years since 17 people were killed and another 17 people were injured in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School school shooting. The mass shooting rocked Parkland and ignited a national conversation about gun violence.
David Hogg and Sam Fuentes were two of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who went around the country and launched a national youth movement against gun violence with March For Our Lives.
CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith caught up with Hogg and Fuentes to talk with them about their lives since the tragedy, how they helped to spark a national movement and the new documentary “Us Kids,” that chronicles how kids from Parkland, Florida fought for justice in the face of trauma.
“In the film I wasn’t really reliving the shooting, I was reliving the aftermath,” said Fuentes. “I’ve seen how far I’ve come in my healing process and how much the film had to do with that is extraordinary. Through the film, I was able to create a community of people I care deeply about who were working towards a cause I care deeply about. At times it might be hard to watch because I don’t always identify with the person I used to be, but I’m proud of that person at the same time.”
“What’s most fascinating about my journey and the documentary is how much I’ve learned and how more empathetic I’ve grown and emotionally intelligent that I’ve grown,” said Hogg. “The way that I used to see this country and the way I see this country now has completely changed from my experience meeting with people from around the country. I don’t want to devalue my exhaustion from the shooting and also the aftermath. My house was flooded and my family got thousands of death threats, my family was intimidated and people threatened to kill my family. You can’t just downplay that. I’ve learned the importance of setting boundaries.”
Both Fuentes and Hogg said the beauty of their movement is that someone will always be fighting, even if one person has to take a step back to take care of their own mental health. Both of the activists want the attention to the people suffering when the stories of gun violence fade from the national headlines.
“After the cameras go away, the trauma remains for these people every single year,” said Hogg. “This stuff happens year after year and the number of people affected by gun violence in the United States isn’t in the thousands or tens of thousands, it’s in the millions. Their trauma lasts for decades. That’s really what needs the attention.”
“Mass shootings have the attention they collect because of the circumstance in which they happen,” said Fuentes. “For my particular shooting, it was incredibly dramatic and incredibly public. I feel conflicted because when it comes to mass shootings, that’s less than 0.6% of the shootings that happen in this country. Parkland is not the story of American gun violence, it’s the story of one specific shooting that happened at a high school that gathered attention internationally because kids died. When we are talking about suicides and police brutality and homicides, these are the stories that always get pushed aside. We focus on a situation that is so rare and it makes me feel guilty. The lens which we talked about the situation was narrow and it should’ve been broad. As children we’ve had to pick up the pieces. We live in a society where we really don’t value human life.”
“Us Kids” from director Kim Snyder is streaming now.