*The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and not indicative of the views of Her Campus or Her Campus at VCU*
Students all across the country walked out of class to protest for stricter gun laws against Congress’ inaction and as tribute to the 17 people killed at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. The tragedy has left us all distraught and feeling hopeless – that is, unless Congress decides to enforce gun legislation that protects us from similar violence. During the peaceful protest, some students decided to support in silence while others read the names of the victims. Some of the other schools used other methods to call to attention the tragic incident that took place; they spelled out the walkout’s rallying cry – “enough” by lying down on a football field. Along with the silent walkout from the students, other participants chanted and waved signs through streets and in front of government buildings to show their support in the political movement. The walk was driven by the conviction that for students to not have to run away from guns, they must walk.
“We have grown up watching more tragedies occur and are continuously asking: Why?” said Kylee Tyner, a 16-year-old junior at Columbine High School, where 13 people were killed in 1999. “Why does this keep happening?” With all the political changes in terms of women, environment and immigration, gun control has repeatedly been put on the back burner at the cost of young innocent lives. The issue of gun violence is brought up only after a mass shooting or from disasters that cannot be fixed. But if gun control and background checks were enforced from the beginning, we would not be at this stage of chaos.
The National Student Walkout demands three main things from Congress and they include banning of assault weapons, requiring universal background checks before gun sales and passing a gun violence restraining order that would allow courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behavior. Although the movement has had mostly success in terms of gaining supporters, there have been individuals opposed to the idea who believe “Guns are not the problem. The people are the problem,” as spoken by Austin Roth, a senior at Lapeer High School in Michigan who claims he’s “100 percent supportive” of those who marched to honor the victims, yet stands against using this emotional tragedy to push a political agenda such as gun control.
However, no matter how much we seem to mourn or honor the victims, no change is occurring as the shootings continue and innocent lives are lost. It can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone. We need more than comfort – we need change. Parents should be able to send their kids to get an education and not have to worry about them making it out alive throughout the day. Safety is the utmost importance and needs to be addressed before anything because we are not safe and Congress needs to take stern action to reform gun control in a way that appropriately addresses the gun violence happening in our country.