PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – The coronavirus crisis has upended everything in our lives, including the national conversation on important issues such as curbing gun violence and catching internet predators. But some of the Parkland activists are finding ways to keep their causes alive during the pandemic.
Manuel Oliver, who founded “Change The Ref” in honor of his son Joaquin, who was killed in the Stoneman Douglas massacre, has released a video about his anti-viral campaign.
In it, Oliver demonstrates how his group is making and distributing bars of soap in the shape of guns.
The video starts with a printed message which says the virus has triggered a surge in gun sales and ammunition.
“You need to wash your hands so you can save your life,” says Oliver, while showing how the soap is made.
The message is that washing your hands is a way to fight the virus, not buying a weapon.
“During this time people are wearing masks, there are people dying of gun violence,” Oliver says in the video.
Oliver told CBS4 he was dismayed to see the spike in gun sales during the pandemic.
“People are losing jobs and businesses, there is domestic violence. But now you are giving guns to them,” he said. “It’s frustrating and sad.”
Organizations for gun owners’ rights have lobbied to keep firearms stores open during the pandemic.
The head of the National Shooting Sports Foundation said it’s a matter of public safety.
“This is essential, especially now at a time when we all need to be on guard,” said CEO Joe Bartozzi.
“That’s part of the game. We should be afraid someone will attack our families,” Oliver counters.
The Stand with Parkland organization, an advocacy group for families seeking positive change, has released also a PSA.
Their message focuses on how parents can protect their kids while they are engaged in distance learning during the stay-at-home orders.
“Concerned parents wonder how can I keep our kids safe when they spend so much time in the digital world,” the video states. “The answer can be found at StandWithParkland.org.”
On the website, there is a wealth of information to guide parents on internet safety.
Once the pandemic has slowed, Parkland activists say they intend to be back on the front lines, engaged in their endless battle finding ways to prevent another school shooting.