Tens of thousands of students across the United States left schools on Wednesday to protest Congressional failure to address gun control. This comes after hundreds of teenagers ran for their lives from the hallways and classrooms of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 students and staff were shot to death last month.
The students walked out of about 3,000 schools at around 10 am and staged a walkout that lasted for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
— Gayle Trotter (@gayletrotter) March 14, 2018
This walkout is one of several protests in the coming weeks. Hundreds of thousands are expected to protest in Washington on March 24 in The March for Our Lives rally for school safety. Walkouts are also planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.
The alleged Florida gunman, Nikolas Cruz, was a “well-known troublemaker at Stoneman Douglas high school, disrupting classes and threatening other students before he was expelled“. He was arraigned during a brief court hearing Wednesday and was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Acting FBI Deputy Director, David Bowdich, also told lawmakers in Washington that agents had a “very explicit” tip five weeks before the attack that Cruz may have been planning the high school massacre but the FBI did not pass the information on to local police for reasons unknown.
Some say U.S. lawmakers are slow to act. The House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday increasing funding for school safety. The bill includes more money for training school officials and police to recognize mental health problems in students, an anonymous tip line for reporting school threats, and money for security measures such as metal detectors. But the bill does not address the issue that led students to walk out of their classrooms: tighter gun laws. Many are demanding a federal ban on assault-style weapons, like the one Cruz allegedly used.
The Senate has yet to take up the measure and although President Trump said he would sign the bill, his stance on gun control is inconsistent. He initially said he would support raising the minimum age for buying a gun from 18 to 21, but has since backed away. Florida recently passed an age limit which the NRA opposes and has since filed a lawsuit in contest.
Some have suggested arming specially qualified and trained teachers and school personnel as a deterrent to a potential school shooter, a measure Trump and the NRA supports, but which many teachers’ groups and police oppose.
Many have voiced beliefs that student protests will finally spark the change needed on gun control, as students have triggered many social movements in the past. Check out some of these commentaries on Twitter below.
I have seen social movements for change – the Civil Rights Movement, protests over the Vietnam War, the fall of communism in Europe, apartheid in South Africa. This is often how a new reality begins. https://t.co/RTspcFTkVf
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) March 14, 2018
— HISTORY (@HISTORY) March 14, 2018
Student protest at Roosevelt High in North Portland. pic.twitter.com/bvPWxb602J
— Pat Dooris (@PatDooris) March 14, 2018
For those of you saying the students walking out today deserve to be punished for their 1st Amendment Rights, keep in mind a large part of the Civil Rights Movement was driven by student protest. Some of our greatest lessons are learned outside of a classroom.
— Charlie Bukowski (@Fear_NoScience) March 14, 2018