#NeverAgain Summary and Review

by David Hogg & Lauren Hogg
Has #NeverAgain by David Hogg & Lauren Hogg been sitting on your reading list? Pick up the key ideas in the book with this quick summary. Unfortunately, school shootings have grown to be all too frequent in the United States. Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, there have been 47 comparable shootings around the country, resulting in countless fatalities. Infuriatingly, each new gun-related incident triggers an identical cycle. It begins with an outpouring of grief, followed by a brief dispute regarding gun control and then protestations that it’s not ethical to politicize a tragedy. Soon, the subject falls from the public eye, though nothing has changed. Everything continues as it was before, setting the stage for the next shooting. This pattern shifted following the Parkland, Florida, attack in February 2018. Student survivors felt like it was about time that they took matters into their own hands. They began a campaign on social media to raise awareness about the issue and stand up to those who attempted to discredit them. This book summary describes how that attack affected siblings David and Lauren Hogg, and the way that their experiences – from early exposure to the realities of gun violence to debating gun-control problems in high school – led to their involvement in the “March for Our Lives” movement. In this summary of #NeverAgain by David Hogg & Lauren Hogg, you’ll also discover
  • how an assertive lifeguard showed David the power of media;
  • how students took on the NRA; and
  • the ten demands that they still want to be addressed.

The Tipping Point of the Parkland School Shooting 

A former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, opened fire on campus on February 14, 2018, killing 17 students and staff members. The tragedy wasn’t the first of its kind, nor was it the last, but, for numerous students, it signified a crossroads. Enough was enough. For 14-year-old Lauren Hogg, the day began with feeling special. Students swapped Valentine’s Day cards; a spirit of celebration was in the air. So when the fire alarm went off during her last class of the day, she, as did many other students, questioned if it wasn’t yet another holiday prank. After all, they’d had a fire drill already that morning. They had been informed by teachers to anticipate a shooting drill at some point soon, which would actors and the firing of blanks. Hence, when they noticed students running across campus, some people still believed there wasn’t anything to worry about. Drills for what to do during a school shooting had become customary. But Lauren was frightened, and when she heard teachers screaming, “Code red!” she seized her friends, ran back to their classroom and hid in the back room. They remained there for three hours, terrified and uncertain of what was transpiring. Occasionally, they’d receive a quick, fragmented text from a friend. Ultimately, they were located and extracted by the police, who sent them to the parking lot. Many parents were waiting there, and Lauren found her father. They went home, and everything quickly registered when upon turning on the television, she viewed the faces of students, her friends, who’d been declared missing. That was when her 17-year-old brother, David, felt he had to return to the school and recount what had happened to the reporters. He explained to the media that something needed to be done to shield schoolchildren, and, over the next few days, he merged collectively with other students to strive to achieve something on their own. These kids were all born after the 1999 Columbine High School shooting; each of them familiar with red-code drills and having grown up dreading such an event. They were ready for some change.

Growing up in California 

Why did these students seek to make a difference? After all, many shootings have occurred before and ended with solely “thoughts and prayers”. But there are several reasons for their decision. For starters, this generation has grown up in dread of a school shooting but with trust in the powers of technology and social media. Furthermore, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School highlighted the significance of understanding real-world social matters. However, a lot of it comes down to personal experiences. Lauren and David learned how to take matters into their own hands while growing up in California. Their father was quite frugal, so to earn pocket money, they started taking advantage of the crowds that came to their neighborhood every Christmas to view the light displays. First, they’d ask their mom to purchase cookies from the store and then they’d wrap each cookie, reselling them for $3, along with $5 water bottles. They earned hundreds of dollars every night and developed an entrepreneurial bond – that is until their parents started questioning where all of the money came from! Nevertheless, it wasn’t only entrepreneurship that they learned in the past. Their father is a former FBI agent and carried a firearm. David used to watch his dad clean it and noticed that it was a tool, not a toy and that it required responsible treatment. Their dad worked at the very LAX terminal that was the scene of a shooting in 2002, and the officer who shot the perpetrator was a family friend. The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting also occurred while they were in California, and observing how troubled their parents were by the news helped David to discern that the code-red drills they had at school were not so normal. Despite all of this, Lauren and David both remained so disconnected from those events, just like the rest of America, they eventually forgot and moved on with their lives.

The Hoggs Move to Parkland

Soon after David began high school, the Hogg family relocated to Parkland, Florida. Sad to leave his friends behind in California, David was, by his admission, a little bit of a jerk at this period of adolescence. He wasn’t exactly making life easy for his parents. However, his new high school taught many assorted subjects relating to politics and the media. David started taking debate and TV production classes and pursued his interest in both areas by following news programs hosted by pundits such as Hank Green and John Oliver. He’d do his investigation into the presented topics, and, as he got older, he became interested in issues like women’s rights and the 2016 presidential election. Finally, he started to apply himself at school. Lauren also started taking TV production courses, and they both learned about news cycles and why certain stories fade from public interest while others don’t. Meanwhile, David came to realize that the role of the journalist isn’t to be the story but to tell other people’s stories. That lesson was driven home when he visited some of his friends in California and silently recorded a dispute between one of them and an antagonistic lifeguard. The video ended up going viral and consequently, the lifeguard was investigated for his conduct. One story really could make a difference! Most importantly, Lauren and David began learning about firearms. Lauren had to study and address gun control and mental health in her debate class long before the attack occurred, while David analyzed the connection between politics and firearms in his AP government class. He was taught that there are inconsistencies on either side of the discussion. For David, one argument was especially absurd: some conservatives allege that they want to have firearms and uphold the Second Amendment to protect themselves from a government that’s attempting to take their guns. But that makes little sense. The Second Amendment was originally written so responsible citizens could support a government that had no army of its own at the time! It was also during this period that David became friends with fellow student Emma Gonzalez, who shared his interest in media and taught him a lot about compassion. She would quickly grow to be an instrumental figure in both Lauren and David’s lives.

Using Twitter to Express Yourself

The evening of the shooting, Lauren went to bed troubled, believing that two of her good friends had been killed. The following day, she discovered it was four. Each of these friends and victims of the attack had a family. They all had friends, interests and a life full of potential. And now, they were gone. Gina Montalto played in the school band and had a quirky disposition that everyone enjoyed. She and Lauren were in the same science class and talked and worked together every day. Jamie Guttenberg loved everybody and was loved right back for it. She’d also liked dancing, and had already decided what college she would attend and where she’d work. Alaina Petty was one of Lauren’s closest friends. She was so funny that she could get the entire class to laugh. She’d also been a member of the “Helping Hands” program at her church. Alyssa Alhadeff was the first person to be nice towards Lauren when the Hoggs initially moved to Parkland. She was a great soccer player, and had such an infectious laugh that one teacher called her “Giggles.” Suddenly, four of Lauren’s best friends were no longer alive; how on earth was she supposed to respond to something like this? She scarcely saw David over the first few days following the shooting, but she knew people were tweeting about it, so she chose to get involved. She penned two tweets, one about how no one should have to ever lose loved ones in this way, and another stating that the survivors didn’t need comforting; they needed change. It was around that time the original tweets forming conspiracy theories about David were published. They said he was a “crisis actor” – someone who plays the victim role in emergency drills and simulations. Some of those tweets were even “liked” by the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., and Lauren started getting threatening and abusive messages herself. Quickly, they became immersed in everything they’d studied in school. So she replied by posting a tweet addressed to Melania Trump, calling out the hypocrisy behind managing a campaign against cyber-bullying while her son-in-law was stirring up hate towards Lauren and her family. It went viral, with people in both parties getting involved. Lauren finally felt that there was a means for her to adapt her grief as a positive force. She told David that she wanted to do something, and he brought her in on what he and his friends had been up to recently.

Using the Media to Take a Stand

David wasn’t close friends with any of the shooting victims, so when he returned to school to address the camera crews, he believed he may be experiencing survivor’s guilt. It wasn’t until later on that a therapist helped him to understand that he was running from his incapacity to comfort his sister and looking for a way to help. This desire first emerged during the attack while he was trapped in a classroom with other students. He began filming himself, narrating what was happening before interviewing others as well. One girl revealed that she had been planning on becoming a junior member of the National Rifle Association – the NRA – but couldn’t any longer after undergoing such a traumatizing experience. Two days later, David was invited to a gathering by his friend Emma Gonzalez, where a small group of students was discussing how they could prevent something like that from ever happening again. They weren’t meticulously planning a publicity campaign but rather, they were working to distinguish a couple of reasonable goals they could push for. It was here that they created #NeverAgain and took the initiative to make a difference. Then they went to war on the internet. The NRA began utilizing the tragedy to raise funds, so David responded by publically identifying companies offering discounts to NRA members. Others followed David's lead, and it wasn't long before numerous sponsors cut their ties. Then, the situation became more sinister. Both Hoggs received death threats, and allegations were circulating that David was an actor, part of a government conspiracy – being that their dad was a former FBI agent – to take away people’s guns. When Fox TV host Laura Ingraham mocked David for his failure to get accepted at certain universities, he posted the names of a few of her show’s advertisers, who promptly withdrew their contracts and forced a public apology from Ingraham. Even Senator Marco Rubio wasn’t safe: a tweet referencing NRA donations to his campaign asserted that Rubio was as easy to purchase as the AR-15 assault rifle used in the attack. By dividing the cumulative donations by the number of students in Florida, they claimed that Rubio placed a price of $1.05 on each of their lives. Before the attack, Emma Gonzalez didn’t have a Twitter account and eleven days after the shooting, she’d obtained more followers than the NRA. Their message was unquestionably being heard.

March for Our Lives and Their Ten-Point Strategy 

Numerous students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas had always aspired to make a difference in the world and to help others. However, they thought that they would have to complete high school first. After the attack, they recognized they may not get the opportunity to wait that long; they needed to act now. Since then, they’ve achieved a great deal. They organized a large protest march advocating for stricter gun control, receiving donations from supporters such as Steven Spielberg and George Clooney and collecting over $4 million on their GoFundMe page. On March 24, 2018, thousands joined the students for the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC. That same day, more than 800 marches occurred across the United States and around the world. Around 800,000 people participated in Washington alone. The NRA is currently at its lowest popularity in 20 years, having lost member discounts from major companies like Delta Airlines. Not only that but, for the first time in decades, approximately two-thirds of Americans support the banning of assault weapons. It’s all progress to be proud of, but it’s not enough. Accordingly, the Parkland students drafted a ten-point strategy for additional change:
  1. Increasing funding for more research into gun violence.
  2. Digitizing all of the paper records of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
  3. Administering background checks on everyone buying firearms.
  4. Banning gun magazines with high bullet capacity.
  5. Banning assault weapons.
  6. Increasing funding for intervention programs to take on the matter at the root.
  7. Instating “red flag laws” or warrants for at-risk individuals.
  8. Preventing those with a record of domestic violence from obtaining firearms.
  9. Devising a federal solution to end gun trafficking among states.
  10. Instating laws for secure and safe storage and mandatory reporting of gun thefts – to restrict child access and to keep guns from getting into the wrong hands.
There’s one more point, which is of equal significance: compelling people to register and vote. None of those steps will exclusively end gun violence, but each would contribute to a better understanding of the issues and, consequently, help to save lives. It’s still early days and the students are still trying to figure out how to accomplish what they want. But the bonds they’ve built and the progress they’ve made is proof of the power of belief and taking a stand for a cause. In the wake of tragedy, they joined together to attempt to heal the world and in that process, they became a family.

In Review: #NeverAgain Book Summary

The key message in this book summary:   The school shooting in Parkland, Florida, was unfortunately not the first or the last of its kind, but it was the start to a student movement that’s creating actual change. Thanks to their education, which helped them to recognize both how politics and media operate and to get a good understanding of the true effects of firearms, these students were able to explain exactly what they wanted. They’ve produced some of the biggest waves in the gun-control debate in years, demonstrating that, with a clear comprehension of the topics and a brave and emotional resolve, anyone can take a stand.