This Friday, thousands of students will walk out of class in schools all over the United States to protest the lack of change in gun regulations as a result of mass school shootings. The National School Walkout was started by Lane Murdoch, a 16-year-old who grew up just 20 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School – where 20 students were killed in a mass shooting in 2012.
The movement started as a Change.org petition following the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February. So far, over 255,000 people have signed the petition, and there are over 2,150 protests registered (find the one near you here).
The specific goals are a bit varied but the bottom line is that students want legislative action taken to prevent more school shootings. Many of the students protesting are not yet old enough to vote, so they want to voice their concerns through protest.
Murdoch, the founder of the National School Walkout writes, “The violence of guns is being performed in our schools and our communities. Not the Senate floor. As the future of America, it is time for teenagers to speak their minds and put their frustration into action.”
A lot of students have mentioned that they also want high capacity magazines and bumpstocks banned as well as universal background checks.
It’s easy to see students’ frustration. While these high school students have had to grow up knowing that school shootings are a reality that could happen at any time, they’ve also watched legislators do more to allow guns on college campuses than to prevent them at schools.
Students definitely have lawmakers’ attention but it remains to be seen if legislators will be compelled into action. Democrats “walked out” of the state Capitol during the anti-gun student walkouts in March as a show of solidarity and spoke of legislation to improve school safety, but no major changes have been made.
To achieve real change, we need this continued action from Georgia’s young, student leaders. But voting-aged Georgians must support their efforts by holding politicians accountable at the ballot box.
We need to send a strong message to 2018 candidates: We will defeat anyone who offers their “thoughts and prayers” without taking substantive action on gun violence.