On Wednesday, March 14, exactly one month after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida took 17 lives, thousands of students across the country took part in the National School Walkout Day. At 10 a.m., students walked out of their schools to honor the Parkland victims to demand that gun violence of this kind to never happen again.
These walkouts took place ten days before the March For Our Lives, a march on Washington organized by survivors of the Parkland tragedy. The March drew hundreds of thousands of marchers, including students marching in an unprecedented mass display of solidarity. While movements to end gun violence have always petered out in the past, it is clear that these students, armed with social media and a resolve that enough is enough, have started a movement that will only continue growing stronger.
The Washington Post reported that in Washington D.C., a crowd of high school and middle school students formed in front of the White House, holding signs high that protested gun violence and those who are against gun-control laws. At 10 am, the protestors sat down on Pennsylvania Avenue with their backs to the White House, holding their signs high while sitting in silence for 17 minutes, one for each life that was lost at Stoneman Douglas. The silence was broken at 10:17 by the crowd who began to chant “We want change!” This powerful display of the nation’s youth protesting was hopefully heard by the politicians and legislators who sat within the walls of the White House, listening to the chants of the next generation as they demanded change.
And although their voices could not be physically heard by America’s leaders, the voices of thousands of other students across the country still rang out loudly as similar walkouts, marches, and protests took place on Wednesday. While the day was mainly about honoring the 17 lives lost in Parkland, they honored the thousands of others who had died at the hands of mass shooters. Students seized the opportunity to speak up and insist that our leaders take action so that mass shootings can be prevented. According to CNN, these students are demanding three things from Congress: a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks before purchasing a gun of any kind, and a law to be passed that would enable courts to remove guns from the possession of an individual that is displaying warning signs of violent behavior.
“This is not a partisan issue for us,” Matthew Post, a student from Maryland said in a speech on Capitol Hill. “There’s nothing cosmetic about life or death. This is about guns, and it’s about our morality as a country . . . Their right to own an assault rifle does not outweigh our right to live. The adults have failed us, this is in our hands now, and if any elected official gets in our way, we will vote them out and replace them ourselves.” The powerful words of this student reflect the attitude that students across the country are adopting: if our government leaders, legislators, and other adults refuse to take action or address these issues, refuse to make change, the next generation will rise up, vote them out of office, and take their place. After the National School Walkout Day, which saw students as young as 12 years old from across the country gather together to demand change, it is safe to say that the future of our country is in good hands.