Social Activism Today: Students Walk Out to Demand Gun Control
Only two and a half months into 2018, the United States has already experienced 45 mass shootings, including 8 so far in the month of March alone. The eyes of the nation - and the world - have turned in particular to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a mass shooting by a 19 year old student with an assault rifle killed 17 teenagers in February.
Since the shooting, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have not waited for action from lawmakers - they have been demanding it. Harnessing the power of grassroots activism with powerful, viral speeches confronting the NRA and lax gun legislation in Florida, and using Twitter to raise awareness for their cause, these high school students have attracted global attention for their eloquent and passionate commitment to ending gun violence in the United States. Oprah, Amal and George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, and others have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to student-led initiatives started and inspired by the students of Parkland.
Now, one month after the shooting, the students of Parkland are teaming up with the coordinators of the Women’s March to organize #ENOUGH, a nationwide student walk out to demand gun control on Wednesday, March 14.
The walk out is intended to be both a memorial for the students who were killed as well as an act of protest to put pressure on lawmakers to pass gun control legislation. According to the initiative’s website, organizers are demanding that Congress ban assault rifles, require universal background checks on gun sales, and allow courts to disarm people preventatively, as well as any legislation that seeks to ‘fortify’ schools by arming staff or students.
Currently, more than 2800 walk outs have been planned by students around the world in solidarity with the #ENOUGH movement. In addition to high schools, over 300 US colleges have released statements confirming that they will not take disciplinary action against students who walk out, including NYU, Harvard, The New School, and Cornell. NYU Florence students will organize their own walk out on Wednesday, March 14 - please check back for more details.
Students aren’t stopping here, though, and have continued plans to demand gun control, including the March for Our Lives on March 24 and another walkout on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we're going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because [...] we are going to be the last mass shooting,” said Parkland student Emma Gonzalez in a gun control rally last month, “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.”
LPD honors the legacy of student activists past and present with our series Year of Revolt: 1968/2018 and will host a panel of student activists from the US and Italy on April 17, as well as workshops with iconic American activist and scholar Angela Davis at the end of April (details TBA).
Main image: Lorie Shaull / Flickr (February 19, 2018)