On Wednesday, Feb. 14, a shooting occurred in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Like the many school shootings that have occurred, the aftermath was filled with “thoughts and prayers,” arguing about how to prevent such situations from happening again and no change from those in office. But unlike previous shootings, Marjory Stoneman Douglas students were and are determined to make change. Within several days, Parkland students and all over the country organized walkouts to protest gun violence.
High schools, middle schools and even some colleges have organized individual walkouts, and a national walkout will take place on Friday, April 20, the anniversary of Columbine, starting at 10 am and ending at the end of the school day. There are currently 1,496 groups participating.
As well as this, a protest called “March For Our Lives” is planned for Saturday, March 24 in Washington D.C., with 493 sister marches across the world. One of these will occur in Wichita, starting at Park Elementary School at 10 am.
Though many say that these protests will not work because we students are so young, it is important to make our voices heard. Most historical protests that brought change to the country have been led by young adults. Why would that change now?
We need to demand change because otherwise the same cycle will continue unbroken. Protests are necessary because they allow people to use their voices especially those who cannot vote. They highlight the views people hold and how they wish to change the country.
“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez said at a gun control rally following the shooting. “Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting. Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law. That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook, and it’s going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all the students.”
Many young people’s voices are ignored because many older people see us as uneducated and emotional when these bad things like mass shootings occur. These walkouts are a starting place because even though many students cannot vote, we can show the adults in positions of power that we will not rest until there is a change. We will not be silenced and we will continue to fight until we feel safe in our schools.
“Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving,” Gonzalez said. “But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see. Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not.”