Students walked out of class on March 14 to demonstrate in support of increased gun control
- 17 lives lost. 17 individuals with hopes and dreams. 17 futures destroyed. 17 too many for the students who walked out to Gateway at the end of brunch on March 14 instead of going to class.
This was part of the ENOUGH National School Walkout, which demanded Congressional response to gun violence at schools.
“There’s been too much talk but we’ve never actually done anything about the issue at hand, so I think this is a step forward toward [making] a difference,” said Jarod Woodbury (10). “I hope with the walkout we start getting the higher-ups [to] notice the importance of gun control.”
Amongst the reasons for participating in the walkout was the hope for specific gun control measures that could prevent another tragedy like the one in Parkland, Florida.
“I am hoping that our voices will be heard in a way that the government will do their best in helping us find gun control, whether that be changing the age constraint from 18 to 21 when buying a gun or having deeper background checks or even banning assault rifles,” said Kim Ton (12).
While the demands vary from a complete ban on guns to more stringent background checks, there is an agreement that guns are part of the mass shooting problem. Participants also agree that one of the purposes of the protest is to prove that student voices matter in the national debate over gun control.
“I think it will really prove to adults what students are capable of and how we no longer will passively watch these unfortunate events on the news,” said Neha Datta (12). “It will truly convey how the youth of America is aware, standing up, and finally protesting for what we believe in.”
Over 200 students participated and several of them stood next to the flagpole demanding change and asking students to help initiate it. However, the magnitude of the effects of the march are yet to be seen.
“If the goal is to show support for this cause, I think [the walkout will be effective] because you will be able to see it in the participation,” said Ms. Ronkainen, a counselor. However, when it came to evoking change, she said, “I don’t think our legislature is very concerned, not enough to enact new legislation.”
On the other hand, the students do not seem ready to back down if their demands are not met the first time around. Demonstrators believe that the changes they are hoping for are timeless, and thus, worth the fight.
“We will not be silenced. The younger generation will continue to speak out and with this protest, we hope to have our voices heard by the government and for Congress to make a change,” said Alina Reyes (12), one of the organizers. “Gun reform needs to happen, and someone’s right to a gun should never change the fact that our students should be able to come to school knowing that they don’t need to fear for their lives.”