#NeverAgain: 3 National Protests to Gun Violence

It’s March. 2018 has hardly begun. But in the past 64 days, there have been nearly 100 deaths caused by mass shootings. Out of a total of 36 mass shootings this year, one-third took place in schools.

In response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, students from Montgomery County, Maryland turned to the streets on Feb. 21 to protest, pleading to our leaders that “enough is enough.” And this protest was just one of many to come. There are three major national protests taking place over the next few months. Here's what you need to know.

March 14, 2018: National School Walkout

It was Valentine’s Day when 17 students were shot and killed in Parkland, Florida. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the deadliest high school shooting in history, toppling the one that took place at Columbine High School in 1999. It’s been nearly two decades and nothing has changed. 17 students. 17 children. 17 friends. 17 lives.

And therefore, 17 minutes is how much time the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER group is calling for schools across the country to participate in this walkout. At 10 a.m. in each time zone, the protests will target what the group says is the source of the problem — "Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”

This protest is peaceful one. Unfortunately, there has already been backlash by schools nationwide. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) notes that schools can indeed discipline their students for missing class during events such as a walk out. And the threat of suspension has placed fear in the hearts of many students, especially those whose college acceptances ride on pristine behavior. Fortunately, over 100 colleges, including UMass Amherst, have dedicated themselves to the #NeverAgain movement by ensuring high school students that their acceptances will not be jeopardized if they choose to participate.

Check to see where various schools stand here.

March 24, 2018: March For Our Lives

Just 10 days later, there will be another round of national marches protesting gun violence. March For Our Lives is a group created and led by students who believe the time to end gun violence is now. Their mission statement advocates that students should not be at the risk of dying when they should be "learning, playing, and growing." Through their protest, the marchers' goals are to gain the attention of Congress by demanding that a bill is drafted that prioritizes students’ safety over gun rights.

The march is planned to start at 10 a.m.; go here to stay updated on the event.

April 20, 2018: National High School Walkout

The Columbine High School shooting took place of April 20, 1999. This year marks its 19th anniversary. The #NationalSchoolWalkout was started by 15-year-old Lane Murdock. Coincidentally, she lives merely 20 minutes away from Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 children were gunned down in 2012. She decided that the time to stand up to gun violence is now. Following 17 minutes of silence to commemorate the Parkland students taking place in the schools, Murdock is promoting a day-long walkout where educators and students can stand side-by-side to peacefully protest. Additionally, the movement is encouraging protestors to wear orange in solace with the National Gun Awareness Day campaign.

Register your school for this walkout here.

Yes, gun violence desperately needs to be stopped and regulations should ensue. But these marches demonstrate something else altogether: the troubling reality that they're being mobilized by youth. Youth who, instead of being allowed to focus on their education, are worried about the safety of themselves, their friends, their teachers and their peers across the nation. These protests are a plea to make our schools safe again. It’s a severe pitfall of our society that it's taking the youngest and most innocent to make a stand to the government. Students should be able to sit in their classes and leave the adults to take this on. But we've tried for the last 19 years since Columbine, and we have yet to see change. Now it's our turn. Help promote these movements, so hopefully one day we will get to say #NeverAgain — and it will hold true.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5