National School Walkout: The Next Generation Demands That Their Voices Be Heard

On Wednesday, March 14, thousands of students across America rose from their seats and walked out of their schools in protest. Our nation has had a conversation about gun control for a long time, especially since the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. After suffering through the February 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students everywhere are proclaiming, “Enough is enough!” Prevention action needs to happen NOW.

My former high school, Oliver Ames High School in Easton, Massachusetts, was one of the many schools that organized a walkout. Approximately 700 students walked out of Oliver Ames for 17 minutes on March 15 (school was canceled on March 14 because of a snowstorm) to honor the 17 people who lost their lives in the Parkland shooting and demand action so it never happens again.

Time and time again, after a mass shooting, the nation contemplates gun control only to get nowhere legislation-wise. This time, however, we aren’t backing down. It’s not just voters and politicians doing the talking, but also students. Many people have criticized the students’ actions, arguing that they are just children and do not even have the right to vote so they should not be claiming a voice in the fight. Additionally, even though many universities have released statements saying that any disciplinary action taken against high school students who participated in a walkout will not affect their application statuses, many other colleges have said the opposite.

Photo by Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Even though most high school students do not have the right to vote yet, that does not mean that their voices do not matter in the gun control conversation. Their voices should actually be the ones that matter the most since they are the ones most directly affected by school shootings. It is not the politicians who are not losing their lives, it is the students.

What kind of country do we live in where we teach children that their opinions do not matter until they are 18? Shouldn’t we raise our youth to care about and want to be involved in politics? These students and their generation will soon be our leaders. People complain about young Americans being “lazy” and feeling “entitled,” but here they are, fighting for what they believe.

Photo from CNN

Our civic duties as Americans extend so far beyond just voting. They include our ability to voice our opinions in countless ways – from calling our senators to participating in protests. The First Amendment, which secures freedom of religion, speech, and the press, applies to everyone in America, not just eligible voters. Students completely have the right to walk out of school and protest the government. Free speech comes first in the Bill of Rights, before any other rights, including the right to bear arms.

If you want to engage in the fight for gun control in America, consider marching in the March for our Lives on Saturday, March 24.

Cover by REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

 

Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!