his enemies online and elsewhere, gun-safety advocate
and recent high-school graduate David Hogg can be seen
as a pesky mosquito that happens to be buzzing into a
microphone for the world to hear.
the four months since a mass shooting at Hogg’s high
school rekindled the gun debate in the United States,
the sharp-tongued Hogg has become a leading voice of the
student-led Never Again movement — and a lightning rod
for contempt from opponents on the right.
wasn’t an accident, he says.
a new mini-memoir written by Hogg and his 15-year-old
sister, Lauren, a rising sophomore at Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School, Hogg writes that he’s been
"difficult" since he was a kid. He explains
how his struggle with a reading disorder and being
treated like he was "defective" turned him
into an activist eager for self-assurance.
one morning in second grade, I distinctly remember
getting up and looking at this striped shirt in my
closet thinking, ‘I’m just gonna be a little s***
today. Let’s see who I can piss off,’" Hogg,
18, writes early in the book. "I guess you might
say that I am a born contrarian."
163-page book chronicles the Hogg siblings’ childhood
growing up in California as the kids of a gun-toting FBI
agent father and an elementary school teacher mom and
how the threat of mass shootings followed them as they
uprooted and moved to Parkland.
siblings appeared on "The Tonight Show" to
discuss their book. They went on Jimmy Fallon’s show
after the TV host surprised the graduating class at
Stoneman Douglas High weeks ago as commencement speaker.
book is a manifesto for the movement begun that day, one
that has already changed America — with voices of a
new generation that are speaking truth to power, and are
determined to succeed where their elders have
failed," reads a publishers’ description for the
said profits from book sales will go to "taxes and
charity," including to the advocacy group Change
the Ref, which was started by Manuel Oliver, the father
of slain Stoneman Douglas student Joaquin Oliver.
and David take turns writing about the fear of almost
losing their father in the 2013 airport shooting in Los
Angeles (he was stationed at the airport during the
shooting, but was not involved directly), the trauma of
living through the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland
and how they became involved in the Never Again
movement. The memoir ends with a 10-point (11, if you
count voting) plan to curb gun violence and a tribute to
victims of school shootings dating back to Columbine.
includes banning "assault weapons," funding
gun violence research and starting universal background
book also attempts to explain how a small group of
well-educated and hard-headed teenagers, some of whom
were not friends before, banded together to demand
change. With their debate skills, social media fluency
and a ‘Let’s see who I can piss off’ attitude, the
students came to redefine the conversation around guns.
They also raised millions of dollars for their cause and
embarked on a voter registration tour ahead of the
always ask us how we came up with our ‘publicity
campaigns.’ The answer is, we didn’t. We really didn’t.
We’re really disorganized. Plus we’re teenagers, so
none of us likes to be told," Hogg writes.
"Nobody asked for permission or approval — if
they thought of something that seemed like it could
work, they just did it. Some people did a lot of
interviews; some people were really good at Twitter;
other people focused on organizing and
Hogg, his advocacy began inside a classroom with a
cellphone camera and an interview. He thought back to
something his teacher said about the vastness of the
universe and how few living people are remembered after
their death. All others, he thought, just melt back into
"the nothingness of time and the universe."
during the Parkland lockdown, he recorded an impromptu
news broadcast and interviewed students hunkered down
next to him about school shootings and what needed to
happen for change to take place. Once the school was
cleared, and 17 students and employees were fatally
shot, Hogg became among the first students to appear on
TV, imploring adults to save children like him.
I didn’t know was that while I was talking away on TV,
determined not to allow this to become a typical two-day
story, Cameron [Kasky] and a small group of his
drama-department friends were quietly planning to
rewrite the entire national dialogue about school
shootings," Hogg wrote. "Two days after the
shootings, I went over to Cameron’s house for the
first official meeting of the group."
Lauren, who had lost close friends in the shooting,
transitioning from grief to activism took a few days.
She writes that she felt inconsolable, spending her days
crying and sleeping as she mourned for her classmates.
But then she took to Twitter to bash conspiracy
theorists who labeled Parkland students "crisis
actors" and the shooting itself a "false
flag" hoax, and soon became a member of the Never
was so much love in that room. So of course, I had to
join, too," Lauren Hogg writes. "And now
looking back, I realize it was the best thing I could
have done. Just to go out and try to make change, it’s
includes remembrances for students Gina Montalto, Jaime
Guttenberg, Alaina Petty and Alyssa Alhadeff.
carefully worded and sometimes searing social media
posts on Twitter — Hogg called it seizing the "memes
of production" — the Never Again teens built an
online following and, quickly, every slam of a GOP
senator warranted news coverage.
point is, none of that was planned. We didn’t hire
consultants and focus groups. it’s just the way our
generation has communicated our entire lives, and it
turned out to be the perfect way to deal with
them," he writes.
people make their voices heard in numbers like that,
people in power listen."
the achievements Parkland activists helped secure —
like the passage of a sweeping school safety and guns
bill in the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature and the
March for Our Lives demonstrations — Hogg stresses
toward the end of the book that his team cannot let
entropy, or the gradual decline into disorder, doom
just like we learned in class, when progress starts,
entropy rears its ugly head," he writes.
late May, two months after the March for Our Lives, Hogg
kept the movement in the news by successfully leading a
protest of Publix’s political contributions to Adam
Putnam, an NRA-supported gubernatorial candidate. The
supermarket chain conceded, stating they’d suspend all
late last month, Hogg and his fellow activists kicked
off the first leg of their national and statewide summer
bus tour to register teens to vote in time for the
midterm elections. Rapper Chance the Rapper and singer
Jennifer Hudson made appearances at the March for Our
Lives: Road to Change rally.
is what the NRA wants," Hogg writes. "Let’s
not give it to them."