Elyssa Hauptman was waiting for an order of Midnight Cookies to arrive at her house before work. Then, she got a text from her friend at 2:50 p.m. that said, “Douglas shooting.”
“I was kind of waiting for her to text me and say, ‘oh no, it was a rumor,’” the UF biology sophomore and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumna said. “But that text never came.”
Hauptman spoke to about 30 students in Farrior Hall on Monday night during the first meeting of a newly conceived club called Gators Against Gun Violence. She talked about the importance of gun law reform after confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people in her high school nearly two weeks ago.
The founder of the organization, Chris Bell, said he came up with the idea for the club when he attended a vigil in honor of the school shooting victims last Wednesday. At the Monday meeting, the club’s new members discussed ways to protest, register voters and getting students to go out and vote for the midterm elections.
“I was pretty inspired,” the 22-year-old said. “It would be easy to keep as a remembrance, but it was a call to action.”
Bell, a UF political science, history and Spanish senior, hopes the club will meet bi-weekly and be registered with the Student Activities and Involvement office. Members will attend and host protests, team up with other organizations to register voters, and inform students about the importance of voting in midterm elections on Nov. 6, he said.
The movement for gun reform is different now because the students who were affected have decided to take a stand, Bell said.
“There’s something innocent about being a child,” he said. “I think it’s different because they’re kids but also old enough to where they want to take action, and they have done so. I think it’s really incredible how far they’ve pushed this.”
Hauptman had a 15-year-old brother and a 17-year-old brother at the school when the shooting happened.
When her 17-year-old brother heard the shots ring out, he ran to a Wal-Mart, less than a mile from the school. Her 15-year-old brother was in the building next to where the shooting occurred, where he hid in the back of a classroom for about an hour.
“It felt like time had stopped moving, and I just couldn’t breathe until I knew that everyone in my family was safe,” Hauptman, 20, said.
Hauptman said Stoneman Douglas was the last place she expected a shooting to happen.
“I’ve heard of school shootings, so I’ve considered the possibility of it happening at my school, but I didn’t ever take it seriously,” she said. “It’s not something you think would happen to you.”