boycotting Florida
David Hogg, an outspoken survivor of the Parkland shooting, has recently initiated a boycotting Florida movement to focus the conversation on gun violence (Image via Wordpress)

The Problems with Boycotting Florida After the Parkland Shooting

Boycotting Florida for spring break might succeed in bringing the nation’s attention to the issue of gun violence, but not without dire consequences.

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Boycotting Florida for spring break might succeed in bringing the nation’s attention to the issue of gun violence, but not without dire consequences.

Violence has, unfortunately, become a lot more common around the world. From domestic abuse to bullying to murder, it’s extremely difficult to go for more than a day without hearing about or watching a crime in your particular corner of the Earth.

However, it is truly shocking and saddening that the most heartbreaking instances of violence have come from the place nobody wants to see it happen: schools. Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook comprise some of the most catastrophic school shootings of the past two decades, and now Stoneman Douglas has joined the dreaded list.

Though the daily lives of the Parkland, Florida students have “returned to normal,” some of its most vocal members are pushing for the idea of boycotting Florida for spring break.

The Sunshine State has long been the ideal spot for students around the country to disconnect from school, party with friends and get away from cooler climates. Daytona Beach, Panama City Beach and Tampa are among the most popular destination for spring break, but after the tragic shooting of Parkland, the enthusiasm among local students is rather low.

David Hogg, a Parkland survivor and an outspoken activist since the early day of the aftermath, is not so keen on his state getting filled with college students. He’s asked the country to stay away from Florida until something is done about gun control. Unfortunately, boycotting Florida is an extremely challenging uphill battle.

Florida is still at the top of Spring Break destinations

The United States is a big country with a countless number of places worth visiting. However, when it comes to destination for spring break, the common practice is for you to go to a place with a sunny sky, sandy beaches and fun nightlife. Such a place has usually been embodied by Florida.

Its advantage of having coasts on both sides makes finding a beach an easy feat. During the February-April period when most schools around the country “celebrate” spring break, the odds of seeing sunshine and warm climates is pure gold.

Additionally, the state’s history as a top tourist destination for college students makes bars, clubs and other party-related businesses turn competitive and thrive during this two-month period.

boycotting Florida
Florida has been the top destination for students seeking sunshine in the mid-March spring break (Image via New OK)

Florida is not only for college students, but it is also for family vacations. The length of the spring break allows families to actually have the time off to get out on the road.

Visiting Mickey Mouse, Harry Potter and spending the week in a resort makes for the perfect family vacation compared to other states. In the first nine months of 2017, 88 million people visited Florida, so it’s clear that asking the nation to turn its back on a tourist hotspot is a tough sell.

Misdirected blame

While Hogg’s initiative may mean well, careful analysis of its impacts on multiple facets of Florida’s economy draws some interesting facts. Florida sees roughly more than 100 billion dollars a year from tourism-related spending.

When it comes to taxes, the state earns roughly six billion dollars and local taxes earn more than 5 billion dollars a year. More than one million people are employed in tourism-related positions.

These numbers tell one truth: boycotting Florida could indeed hurt the pocket of the state administration while the tourism industry wasn’t responsible for the Parkland tragedy. Changing gun control laws could potentially reduce the number of shootings, but is it worth it if the people who work and make a living from the spring break season suffer instead?

What about the students and families who planned their break in advance? Coordinating the logistics of refunds with hotels, car rental companies, airlines and more could prove to be a nightmarish situation. Hogg’s intent is admirable but has a low chance of success given the precedents in little guy versus big guy fights.

David vs. Goliath

Although there have been many movies, books and tons of media about the little guy beating out the giant, it’s not so simple when it comes to beating out corporations and politicians. The state of Arizona garnered national backlash when it changed its immigration laws in 2010 and was targeted in a nation-wide boycott.

While the state missed out on 141 million dollars because of canceled conventions, the boycott was, in fact, unsuccessful. However, the situation served as a “warning” for other states to think before they passed controversial immigration laws. The Occupy movement in 2011 also suffered from the lack of a specific objective or goal.

The same goes for Chick-Fil-A and the boycott after the company’s president denounced same-sex marriage. The big guy has usually come out unscathed from attempted boycotts mostly because the “plaintiffs” don’t offer the easy alternatives for people to efficiently avoid the likes of Florida, Arizona, Chick-fil-A and others.

Still An Example to Follow

Young students David Hogg or Emma Gonzalez are just some of the few joining and pushing for a change in not only Florida’s tourism but also in the state laws on guns and the responsibility of the National Rifle Association.

The “March for Our Lives” movement won’t come until late March, yet it will be a great instance to gauge the country’s reaction to the gun control issue. Because “new, now, next” is the modern standard for content, the Parkland activists may end up disappearing from the headlines and the gun conversation quieting down.

Still, their strength to stand up for what they believe in is admirable and should become an example for other young students who share the request for a fundamental change in our legislation. Not only should students learn it’s okay to question the adult and leaders, they should learn the fight doesn’t end when you exit the headlines.

The media is already constantly talking about “March for Our Lives” before it has happened. When it does, more eyes will turn into Hogg, Gonzalez and other students fighting for a voice and a change.

If they choose to continue to fight locally about gun control, they will be an example of persistence and resilience, and that’s the type of role model you need. It’s not about what you do when the spotlight is on you, but about what you do when nobody’s looking.

Overall, the boycotting Florida initiative was definitely well-intentioned, but it probably came from an emotional and angered impulse.

With the proper amount of planning, a clear objective and easy alternatives for the public, the movement could have a better chance at success. The student activists from Parkland, Florida have to keep fighting for what they believe in and not give up when the media isn’t there to support them.

For now, they should take pride in seeing the small developments in the NRA boycott. Holding governments accountable is the best way to keep democracy alive.

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