A month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that resulted in the deaths of 17 students, the U.S. now sees thousands of students staging a National School Walkout.
On March 14th, 2018, schools permitted high school and college students to leave their classes for 17 minutes, honoring the 17 victims of the shooting and attempting to pressure Congress to pass long-sought-after gun control legislation. Organizers emerged nationwide, but the push is largely attributed to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in partnership with EMPOWER, the youth department of the Women’s March. Under the title 'March For Our Lives,' students put forth a mission statement “to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues,” as well as to demand that the lives and safety of students be treated as a priority.
They look to send one message:
“Enough. We have seen enough senseless gun violence; we have lived in fear too long. We have buried too many heroes. We demand better.”
Starting at 10 a.m., Eastern time, demonstrations extended beyond school property, leading to marches and, in Washington, large gatherings around the White House. In New York, some public officials took to protest; Governor Andrew Cuomo, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, and Michael Mulgrew of the United Federation of Teachers engaged with a student “lie-in.”
Granted, the movement did not garner support from every school administration, some even threatening disciplinary action and facing defiance from student populations. As the numbers indicate, however, many districts allowed students the personal choice to participate, backing them with permission slips and allotted time frames for protest.
The walkout marks one of many continuing demonstrations. The official 'March For Our Lives' is scheduled to take place on the 24th of this month, and is meant to occupy the nation’s capital as well as the “town squares, city centers, rural roads, and village parks” that are available nationwide. The second walkout is set to occur on April 10th, the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. The protests have clear implications; Florida Governor Rick Scott rebuked the National Rifle Association last week in signing into law a measure that would raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 to purchase a firearm in the state.The walkout is a clear representation of the youth that is actively working for their cause, and that will not rest until it is seen through. Per their site, “Our voices need to echo into the future if our friends, our siblings, and our bodies are to be safe. Then it will be enough.” We must continue to demand change.