Students across the nation protested gun violence on Wednesday by walking out of their schools for a 17-minute protest. That 17 minutes represents the 17 people who died in a February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students left their schools and universities at 10 a.m. in their local time zones as part of the National School Walkout organized by the Women’s March Youth Empower group.
An estimated 2,500 schools have planned walkouts.
— Olivia Krauth (@oliviakrauth) March 14, 2018
According to the walkout website, participants support legislation in Congress to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, expand background checks to all gun sales, implement a gun violence retraining order law and stop the militarization of federal, state, and local law enforcement.
Participants oppose the Conceal Carry Reciprocity Act, a bill that would allow someone with a concealed carry permit in one state to carry their guns into states with stricter gun control laws. Advocates for survivors of domestic violence say such a policy would allow abusers to more easily stalk and kill their victims.
Those who protested on Wednesday also oppose “any legislation that would aim to fortify our schools with more guns.” Andrea Colon, a senior at Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability in New York, told CNN, that guns in schools create “this sense of criminalization that no one really wants to feel. School is supposed to be a place where you go and feel safe, you feel supported, and that’s not how you feel when you have to go through metal detectors, and you’re patted down because you have too many bobby pins in your hair or because you didn’t take your belt off and you have to be wanded.”
Although 56 percent of Americans opposed arming teachers, according to an NBC News/Survey Monkey poll, the Trump administration has proposed providing school staff with training to use firearms. Many states are also considering bills aimed at arming teachers and other school staff. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that advocates for gun control, there have been 29 incidents of guns fired near schools in 2018 so far.
School districts have all responded differently to the walkouts. Some schools have allowed students to walk out but included a police presence and others have forbid students from walking out and directed students to other activities, such as writing letters to politicians. One school district in Texas threatened to suspend students from schools for three days if they walked out of school for the gun violence protest.
“We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved,” a letter from Needville Independent School District Superintendent Curtis Rhodes reads.
But threats like these haven’t stopped many students from walking out of their schools on Wednesday, regardless of the consequences.
— Laura Caso (@LauraReports) March 14, 2018
Students at Trevor Day School in manhattan have walked out of class to demand gun control and a stop to violence. They’re observing 17 minutes of silence for the 17 Parkland FL victims #neveragain #walkout pic.twitter.com/kXtkKuEdTb
— Scott Heins (@scottheins) March 14, 2018
— Anthony Grande (@AnthonyGrande23) March 14, 2018
Every student at this walkout suddenly lay down and now their parents are watching and taking photos of this and everyone is totally silent. pic.twitter.com/aZNe66uUD4
— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) March 14, 2018
Hundreds of students chanting “Never again” have blocked traffic on St. Georges Ave. in Linden. pic.twitter.com/GqoXjYLC0g
— Marisa Iati (@marisa_iati) March 14, 2018
— ColumbusCitySchools (@ColsCitySchools) March 14, 2018
— Nathalie Baptiste (@nhbaptiste) March 14, 2018
— glenn schuck (@glennschuck) March 14, 2018
Justin Blackman says he was the only student at his school participating in #NationalSchoolWalkout but it didn’t deter him
— BET (@BET) March 14, 2018
— Dystopian Scribe (@MsKellyMHayes) March 14, 2018
This is a developing story and will be updated with more details.