Students Across U.S. Walk Out Of Classrooms, Protest Lack Of Gun Reform After Parkland Shooting
Exactly one month after 17 students were killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida, hundreds and thousands of teenagers across the nation walked out of their classrooms to call for stricter gun control measures.
Nationwide Student Walkouts For Gun Control News
From New York City to Chicago, Atlanta, Santa Monica, California and Elon, North Carolina, students marched through the streets to call for greater justice for the victims of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Several students were seen holding signs that carried the phrase “Never Again,” a campaign that was started by the Parkland high school’s survivors and that has become a nationally trending hashtag on social media.
In some states, school administrators attempted to subdue or impose restrictions on the protests, but many students appeared undeterred and decided to take action following one of several school shooting incidents that have transpired in the United States in recent years. Many students kept their protest brief, marching for 17 minutes as a way to honor each of the victims lost in Parkland on Valentine’s Day.
“We have grown up watching more tragedies occur and continuously asking: Why?” said Kaylee Tyner, a 16-year-old junior from Columbine High School in Colorado, where 13 people were murdered in 1999. “Why does this keep happening?”
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The Columbine tragedy was, up until recently, one of the largest school shootings in the last 20 years. Now, some massacres at schools across the nation in the past few years have left more people dead.
Several prominent politicians including Bernie Sanders joined the students in their march. Last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 and extended the waiting period to three days. Several major retail stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and Kroger have also increased the minimum age for guns to 21, and have stopped selling assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and other similar weapons and firearm accessories in their stores, and vowed to improve background checks.
Students from MSD High School and their parents have confronted Florida elected officials like Senator Marco Rubio and top leaders of the National Rifle Association like spokeswoman Dana Loesch on the issue of gun reform, and some students even went to the White House to speak directly with President Donald Trump and other administration officials. Trump had initially said he would push for greater gun control, even saying that he would consider taking firearms away from mentally ill or violent people first, and taking care of due process second. Amid the related debate on whether schoolteachers should be armed as a way to prevent mass shootings, the president said he believed teachers who underwent firearms training to defend their students with weapons should receive a bonus.
Trump later reversed his stance on the issue of gun control and background checks after meeting with NRA officials. Another national protest on the issue, the “March for Our Lives,” is set to be held in several cities on March 24, and another nationwide march is scheduled for April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting. In the rural town of Potosi, Wis., where there is only one school, no student-led walkouts were held. Instead, a morning meeting was organized after a few students requested one. Safety precautions were discussed at the school.
Raj Shah, Mr. Trump’s deputy press secretary, responded to the media’s questions about the student marches by stating the president “shares the students’ concerns about school safety.” Shah also said he was in favor of greater mental health treatments and more rigorous background checks.
Also on Wednesday, in a scary turn of events related to the issue of school shootings, 18-year-old Morgan Roof — the sister of white supremacist Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine black people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015 — was arrested after being found with drugs and weapons at a high school in Columbia, South Carolina. Morgan Roof also posted a threatening message responding to the nationwide walkouts. Shortly after the walkouts started, the NRA posted this video message on Twitter:
Let’s work together to secure our schools and stop school violence. We protect our banks, our sports stadiums and our government buildings better than we protect our schools. That must change. #StopSchoolViolenceAct #DefendTheSecond #NRA pic.twitter.com/98dWIv0giM
— NRA (@NRA) March 14, 2018
Late-night comedy television hosts like Samantha Bee commented extensively on the walkouts:
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