Interview With an Activist: David Hogg

The Bulldog Bark interviewed activist David Hogg on his views about gun control, arming teachers, crisis actor accusations, and more.

The Bulldog Bark interviewed activist David Hogg on his views about gun control, arming teachers, crisis actor accusations, and more.

Max Neuberger, Contributor

David Hogg is a 17 year old senior at Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as one of the many students affected by the shooting on the 14th of February. He’s a survivor-turned-activist and has been on countless interviews with countless news organizations, advocating for gun control in the United States and safety for students around the nation. The Bulldog Bark interviewed Hogg on the March 13th via Skype, and the following is a transcript of what he had to say:


Will you be attending the March For Our Lives on March 24th? What are some planned things that you are planning to do at the event and what route will you all be taking?

We’re going down Pennsylvania Avenue which goes right in front of the White House. Some of the planned things that we have are, I believe some people are performing, I don’t know if that’s public yet. It’s mainly going to be us just marching, kind of like the Women’s March almost.


Will there be any speakers?

It’s mainly us that’ll be speaking. I think we have some kids from Chicago speaking as well.


How many other major news sites have you been on? And how many interviews have you been a part of?

Probably over a thousand.


Can you name some?

Cnn, ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, MSNBC, the Australian Broadcasting Network, Norway, England, Germany, Argentina, Venezuela, Sweden, Colombia; pretty much anywhere, any news organization I’ve spoken to.


How are you dealing with the sudden limelight that you’ve been put in, and all this attention and everybody having eyes on you?

I’m just trying to live a normal life as much as I can. It’s weird going to Panera and having people I’ve been ordering from for years actually recognize me finally.


There are some of your critics who’ve called you a crisis actor. I’m sure you’ve heard all about this. What would you say to these critics who have accused you?

I would say that they’re wrong, and it’s gonna be a critical thinker but in this case they’re absolutely wrong. It’s disgusting to think that they’ve lost so much faith in America because we certainly haven’t and we’re never going to. But it’s alright because we are going to outlive them.


How do you feel about your views being dismissed because you’re “just a kid” or “to young to understand what you’re talking about”?

I don’t really care if people dismiss us. EIther way, we get this done now or we get this done when we’re in politics. Again, we’re going to outlive these evil people that are in politics right now, so they can either be on the right or wrong side of history. They’ve shown us that they want to be on the wrong side, then they’ll be smeared in our history textbooks as a result.


Moreover, how do you feel about being treated like a public figure that you’ve become, and facing criticism and debate over your views and talking to politicians and actually debating with them over what you think versus what they think?

I think it’s good because it keeps it in the public eye, and obviously I think my side of it is correct and theirs is wrong. I’ve debated this stuff for years now in speech and debate so I kind of know both sides of the argument, and either way, regardless of what your views are, I’m glad we’re still talking about it.


What are some more protests and events that you are planning to attend?

Other than the march, not really any because I’m really focusing on more specific stuff like working with the media a lot more. I’m going to be speaking at Harvard on the 19th and 20th [of March], and then I’ll be in New York.


Who’s going to be speaking at Harvard?

Me, Emma Gonzalez, Ryan Deitsch and his brother Matt. All I know for sure is I’m going and so is Ryan Dietsch. (Harvard speakers now confirmed to be David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Ryan and Matt Dietsch, Cameron Kasky, and Alex Wind.)


You’ve previously urged tourists to boycott traveling to Florida until state legislators pass stricter gun laws as a form of protest. How do you think that kind of method is going to help the cause, and what other methods would you propose or have you proposed to convince our legislators to change these laws, to force their hand so to speak?

Just taking economic action. The power in politics lies in the hands of business owners in reality, because they are the money in politics. We realize now that politicians do not care about you or your lives because we don’t vote. They don’t care. If we don’t vote on this then they don’t care- the only thing they do care about is getting reelected and making money. So after we go after their money, that’s when they are forced to take action.


There’s a lot of students who want to support everything you guys are doing, but don’t know how. How would a student find out about the marches and protests?

Okay, if you go to, they would find a sister march on the 24th, they would register to vote, and they would make sure that they would always vote on the issue of whether or not their politicians are taking money from the NRA.


So you’re sort of suggesting that people become one issue voters on this.

Basically, yeah. Becoming one issue voters and focusing on this because it affects everyone. Gun violence kills over 13,000 people every year in the United States. That’s over 96 people per day, and that is something that has to change.


How do you feel about the Florida bill that was passed that would allow non-teacher personnel to carry concealed weaponry?

Personally I don’t really agree with it. I’m glad to see some action taken, it shows that we can have progress even in the most republican areas. I think it’s a moment in a much larger movement and I don’t think we can allow these politicians just to think that that was enough, and that they’re going to get away with it. That was a small step. We need a lot more bills introduced like, it didn’t cover the gun show loophole, it didn’t cover strawman purchases, and it didn’t cover universal background checks at all in the state of Florida and that’s something that we have to work on.


Can you explain the gun show loophole and the straw purchase?

So basically through the gun show loophole, 40% of all guns are bought at gun shows like the ones that we have in Ft. Lauderdale and things like that. People do not need to have a background check when they go there to buy any weapon, all they need to do is just pay for the weapon. That’s the gun show loophole, where basically 40% of guns are bought with no background check. The other loophole is if you’re a criminal, and you have a criminal history, and you can’t purchase a gun, your girlfriend for example can and she can just give it to you.


Can you address the yearbook photo of you that seems to show that you graduated in 2015?

That photo is from my junior year at Stoneman Douglas, you can see above it, it says “Eagles.” If you look right above that photo you can see it says Eagles. People say that’s from Redondo Shores High School. Please tell me where that is because that high school doesn’t exist first of all. And second of all, the photo shows me graduating from my middle school. Our color was red and that’s me graduating from 8th grade to 9th grade in California.


So are you saying that someone photoshopped that together and posted it?

They didn’t photoshop it together, they just literally took a photo of my Stoneman Douglas yearbook and said “this is him in a different yearbook” when it’s literally the same yearbook.


What grade are you in now, and how old are you?

I’m a senior. I’m 17.


When will you turn 18?

I turn 18 on April 12th.


So you’ll be old enough to vote in the elections.

Yeah, I will be.


Following up with the crisis actor rumors, there is a video that is being used to sort of push that crisis actor rumor and it’s a video of you being interviewed, and people are saying you’re being coached by whoever’s behind the camera. Can you address that?

You guys will learn this eventually, I don’t know if you have a broadcast journalism program or not. The reason why I rehearsed is because I’m a news director at my school for a broadcast journalism program and i wanted to make sure I could sound as good as possible because it was a pre-recorded interview. I was saying the exact same thing, basically, it just so it would sound way better and the reason the producers think it’s ok is because I’m a kid. I was in a mass shooting the same day. And like, it was hard for me to get my words together first off, so I kept starting over and trying to say the same thing, just trying to make it as clear and concise as possible and that was hard for me. It was Fox News, not CNN. Clearly Fox News was trying to coach me.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years down the line? Do you eventually see yourself working, for example, in the White House? Where do you see yourself?

I see myself working in the news, I’ve already been offered a few jobs like working for CVS National, I’ve been offered a job with NBC as a correspondent for this SnapChat show which is like, you know Good Luck America or whatever, and a few other jobs in New York, California, and different things like that. So really, working there is where I’ll be. I might go into politics later in life, but I need to have a lot more of an understanding, and I need to go to college, so. I plan on either going to Harvard for political science next year, because I want to take a gap year to work on midterms or go into working in journalism.


Which of those job opportunities are you more for, which ones would you prefer?

The job opportunities that I’m more for are like, on-camera correspondent, and reaching as many people as possible. And obviously I need to pay for college too so I need something that’s reasonably well paid.


So would you be going into one of those types of jobs while you’re in college?

Probably not because I would really need to be focused on my studies. Unless it gets to a point where I have a really good paying job, and I’m doing a good job and the ratings are good, I might just not go to college for the first few years. What’s the point if I already have a job that I was going to college to learn how to do.


Do you think that school security had anything to do with what happened? Was your school security around, was it not enough?

I think it had everything to do with what happened, the fact that the deputy was basically telling people to not go in the building, the fact that we had meetings with our teachers like two months before this where we talked to them like, “hey there’s glass panels here in our door. Is that glass bulletproof, why wouldn’t they just shoot through that?” and our teachers were like “eh. Whatever.” And 17 people died as a result. I think school security had everything to do with this. The fact that the inaction of the FBI, the inaction of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, they’re absolutely at fault. So are our politicians because at the end of the day, they are in charge of them.


What do you think that schools need to do security-wise, what do they need to up in their security?


They need to have a lot more bulletproof glass, they need to have locks that are easier to be locked, either from the inside but that could be a fire hazard. Just easier to lock doors, and teachers need to go in and out more easily. Not necessarily having more police officers because that school to person pipeline which is a huge issue in and of itself. When you increase the number of school resource officers, you also increase the racial disparity between white and black students, because black students are incarcerated 3 times more just because the racial disparity in our justice system and that is something that has to be addressed like Becky DeBois is repealing Obama Era regulations that made it so that there weren’t so many racial disparities in the system.


Do you think teachers should be armed with guns?

No. I don’t. And my reasoning behind that is, there are so many teachers out there that are not mentally stable and don’t have enough training. You can get as much training as you want but you do not know what you’re going to do in these situations because when it comes down to it, it’s instinct over however much training you have and these teachers are not going to be prepared to handle these guns, let alone the fact that what if one of these teachers was shot by the police because they were thought to be the shooter, what if one of these teachers got mad one day and went rogue? There are teachers that are somewhat mentally unstable and might do so. I don’t think the answer to this problem is bringing more guns into the school, I think the answer to this problem revolves around the American society. Fixing our mental health system, and fixing gun problems that we have in this country. Imagine a scenario where there was a teacher that was trying to use a gun, and they were shot and then a student tried using the gun to defend him or herself. What happens when a police officer goes in there and sees a student with a gun? They’re going to think that person is the school shooter and when it becomes between them and the shooter, it’s going to be them.


How did you feel about going back to school?

Imagine getting in a plane crash, then getting back on that same plane every day, having to learn on that plane, and not fixing the actual problem that caused the plane to crash in the first place and being expected to just be like, “ok, it probably won’t happen again today.” That’s what it’s like.


David Hogg is just one of the many activists to come out of the Stoneman Douglas shooting. He and his peers, along with countless students all across the nation have stood up in the face of tragedy for what they believe in. We thank Hogg for his time and commend him for his efforts to change the nation for the better.