'We shouldn’t be the 'stars' of the school-­shooting generation': Inside Parkland shooting survivors David and Lauren Hogg's new book

"We shouldn’t be the 'stars' of the school-­shooting generation," they wrote.

June 19, 2018, 8:15 AM

Teen activist David Hogg and his younger sister Lauren Hogg rose to national fame in the aftermath of the Valentine's Day massacre at their high school in Parkland, Florida. The two survived when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 people with an AR-15-style weapon.

In the wake of the tragedy, the siblings, along with their classmates and friends, launched the March for our Lives and #NeverAgain movements to fight for gun reform so others wouldn't suffer the way their community did.

Lauren Hogg, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, speaks during a panel on ways to improve school safety and promote student well-being on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2018.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images, FILE

The brother and sister's new book, "#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line," goes inside the making of the #NeverAgain movement.

"I couldn’t stand to be around to listen to my sister crying so much knowing that she lost four friends," David, 18, said Tuesday on "Good Morning America" of why he spoke out about gun reform just hours after the shooting. "And knowing that if I just stood there and did nothing that this would continue to happen."

He added, "I’ve always felt like the only way to change the world is to be the change you wish to see."

Lauren, 14, recalled meeting with a survivor of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting just one week after the shooting at her own high school.

"She said, 'I’m so sorry but you’re part of this club now. You’re part of this club that everybody is part of who’s been affected by gun violence,'" Lauren recalled. "'And you’re not going to be able to get out but we’re going to have to work hard to make sure that nobody else has to join this club.'"

PHOTO: David Hogg, center, a student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School along with other demonstrators lie on the floor at a Publix Supermarket in Coral Springs, Fla., May 25, 2018.
David Hogg, center, a student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School along with other demonstrators lie on the floor at a Publix Supermarket in Coral Springs, Fla., May 25, 2018. Students from the Florida high school did a "die in" protest at the supermarket chain which backs a gubernatorial candidate allied with the National Rifle Association.
Wilfredo Lee/AP

David graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this month and deferred college to work with the March for Our Lives organization.

"We can have regulations like universal background checks and common sense gun laws that will save lives and really just save our future and your kids because we can’t let this stuff continue to happen," he said.

Below is an excerpt from the siblings' new book, which debuts today. The teens said they are donating proceeds from the book to charity and local community organizations.

Excerpt from "#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line"

Before February 14, we thought we had plenty of time. We wanted to do something that would make the world a better place, to fight for justice as lawyers or activists or crusading journalists, to be responsible citizens and raise good-­hearted children. But first we had to finish high school.

After February 14, we knew how fast time could stop.

We learned so much at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. We studied Supreme Court decisions, read Shakespeare, and explored the mysteries of black holes. We spent a huge amount of time on contemporary issues like poverty and the environment. In our psychology classes, we talked about death and grief and mental illness. We debated gun control and the NRA. We spent a whole week studying school shootings. But it all seemed a little bit distant, a little bit like a dream. Either it happened before we were born, or it was happening somewhere else.

When it happened to us, we woke up. We knew we couldn't wait until we got out of college and settled into jobs. We had to make the world a better place now. It was literally a matter of life and death.

So we stood up and tried to make our voices heard. We're really proud of what we have accomplished so far, and are so grateful to all the people who have joined our cause. They gave us strength. They gave us hope. You give us hope.

But let's face it -- ­it's not enough. And the merchants of chaos keep peddling their wares.

"Never Again," by David Hogg and Lauren Hogg of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Random House

Sixteen days after we woke up, a man in Detroit who had just gotten out of a hospital where he was being treated for hallucinations shot and killed his daughter, her mother, his cousin, and two people who just happened to be there. Anyone who knows about history knows that the founders did not intend for anyone with an illness or a grievance to be able to take out their rage on the world with weapons that they could not have begun to imagine. This is madness.

It's almost summer now, and the death count continues to rise in America. Without a radical change in America's priorities and in our gun laws, our protests will have been in vain. Power and cynicism don't give way easily. But we have no intention of stopping.

After you spend a few hours hiding in a classroom while your friends and teachers are slaughtered, you can't stop thinking about how insane this is and how to change it. Volunteer in political campaigns? Try to fix the mental health system? Fight the gun lobbyists? Push for comprehensive background checks?

We think you should. We hope you do. There is a whole world to change.

You probably don't know who Tyra Hemans is. She was at Parkland that day and she had friends die. She was with us in Tallahassee when we asked our state legislators to do something. She was with us at the march on Washington. She's a great speaker and a loving person. But we got famous and she didn't.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student David Hogg addresses the March for Our Lives rally, March 24, 2018, in Washington.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE

What about Zion Kelly? In September 2017, Zion’s twin brother, Zaire, was murdered in Northeast Washington, D.C., by a kid with a gun. Zaire -- ­a standout student and athlete at Thurgood Marshall Academy -- ­was just sixteen years old. To honor his brother's memory and find meaning in his loss, Zion, who is as shy as Zaire was outgoing, has nonetheless made it his mission to stand up, speak out, and change the world. We were honored that he joined us on stage in Washington. But we got famous, and he didn't.

Or what about the protests at Liberty City in Miami? Four kids were shot there in April, and two of them died. One of them was about to get inducted into the National Honor Society. Hundreds of students turned out to protest. Only one newspaper went to cover the protest, only one reporter actually bothered to interview them. The TV coverage was shot from a helicopter, and made the Liberty City protest look like a riot. We got headlines, they didn't.

Those kids tried to make their voices heard just like we did. They lived through the exact same thing we lived through. But they don't live in a gated community. They are from a lower socioeconomic status and they are a different color. Instead of riding their bikes to school listening to NPR on their iPhones without even thinking someone might shoot them, they had to worry about it every day. In raw statistics, their odds of getting shot are twice as high as ours, and a lot of American kids just like them live in places where they have a higher death rate than soldiers in Afghanistan.

We're super glad people are listening to us, but we're not the story. We shouldn't be the "stars" of the school-­shooting generation, which is a horrifying thought on so many levels. If people only listen when privileged white kids get killed -— ­and even then, only when the number of dead kids is high enough to make the news -— ­we're never going to fix this problem.