House Democrats are giving young gun safety advocates an opportunity to spend the summer in Washington exploring whether their activism could lead to a career.
House Democratic leaders on Thursday announced a new gun safety internship program designed for students from Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a teen gunman killed 17 people in February, and other schools that have been affected by gun violence.
Democratic caucus chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and vice chair Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), as well as Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), who chairs a House task force on gun violence prevention, and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) sent a letter to fellow Democratic lawmakers encouraging them to offer summer internships to students who have been advocating for gun safety measures.
“We have all been impressed with the leadership and passion shown by students around the country on the issue of gun violence prevention,” the lawmakers wrote. “Through efforts like the March for Our Lives, students have been speaking up and demanding action on this issue like never before, and they are an inspiration to many of us.”
The internship announcement comes less than a week after 10 people were killed in a shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas.
The Feb. 14 Parkland shooting sparked a nationwide conversation on gun violence and prompted survivors, as well as thousands of other students across the country, to embrace gun control activism. The students created the March for Our Lives and #NeverAgain movements to continue public discourse on gun violence well after news coverage of the shootings petered out.
Crowley said the idea for the internship program arose after the Parkland shooting, but things “kicked into gear” after the Santa Fe massacre.
“These students have been through something none of us would ever want to experience,” Crowley told HuffPost. “It’s important that we learn from their experience.”
An internship, he said, “is an opportunity for us to learn from them and for them to learn from us.”
Applicants will be matched with representatives’ offices based on regional and policy interests, said Lauren French, the Democratic caucus communications director.
“We want to make sure these phenomenal young people know that public service is an option,” French said.