Fifteen-year-old Eden Hebron had never lobbied Congress before last Thursday—and before February 14, when three of her classmates were murdered in her classroom at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, she’d never really shared her political opinions at all. But, like manyof her fellow student survivors, Hebron’s first-hand experience with devastating gun violence had finally brought her to Washington, where she spoke with federal lawmakers about sponsoring the gun control legislation that currently lays dormant in Congress.
Hebron knows that none of the bills she asked lawmakers to sign onto will become law anytime soon. The widespread demands for gun control that followed the February school shooting haven’t been matched by legislative action. Republicans, who control Congress, have refused to even hold votes on gun control measures. It’s safe to say that her trip didn’t change any GOP minds.
But for Hebron, that wasn’t the point. With no votes to reveal where lawmakers truly stand on the issue, she wanted to know if the ones who had voiced support for gun control would actually be willing to put their names on legislation. And she got the response she’d hoped for: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who was meeting with Hebron and other student activists as news broke of a mass shooting in his state capitol at The Capital Gazette newspaper, signed on as a co-sponsor for a so-called “red flag” bill that would take guns out of the hands of people who pose a risk to themselves or others. His office says that the students asking made the difference.