All across the US, students are walking out of classes in a show of solidarity and demanding for the enforcement of stricter gun laws. The walkouts lasted for a total of 17 minutes; a minute for each of the slain gun victims from last month’s shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
The demonstrations held on the one month anniversary of the Florida shootings were in protest of gun violence, with the students demanding for stricter gun laws. The demos dubbed the ‘National Student Walkout’ are in demand for three main issues. It demands of a ban on assault weapons, students want background checks to be a requirement before a gun sale, and they demand a law that will give the courts the right to disarm anyone who has exhibited violent behavior and other warning signs.
School Shooting in Florida
In Florida, where the latest school shooting took place, these demands have not changed the legislature. However, there have been other measures, with one aiming to arm some teachers that have been signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. A bill funding heightened security within schools has also been passed by the US House of Representatives, with support from both sides of the divide, while another seeking to raise the legal age of obtaining an assault weapon being passed in Illinois.
The demonstration’s organizers have, however, voiced their concerns about the repercussions of introducing more guns and law enforcement into the school, especially to students of color.
With many students set to walk out, many others chose to or had been made to sit out the demonstration on threats of disciplinary action to be taken against them.
School Heads Oppose
Some school heads opposed to the idea of walking out of class had written memos to parents informing them that those particular schools would not be participating in the walkouts. Parents had been advised to call the schools asking for permission in the event their children would not be in school on this day, even in the event they were taking part in the protests. Students in these schools who still want to show solidarity have opted to hold theirs during class breaks instead of walking out mid lessons.
In many rural areas and conservative places, there were no protests entirely. These areas are not very supportive of the call for gun control and have complained of the demonstrations being pushed by political agendas. Some schools warned of not letting the students back into the school for the rest of the day if they participated in the demonstrations, this was however later retracted in emails sent out to parents saying the students would be able to attend the rest of their lessons after.
Many protestors in the capital went to protest in front of the white house chanting “Enough!” The official slogan of the protests and holding up signboards in support of changing the existing gun laws. Some lawmakers stepped out of the white house to meet with the students, many of them Democrats.