American Students Stage A National Walkout To Plea For Stricter Gun Laws

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Image Credit: Women March Youth.org

On February 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz calmly walked into Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and used his legally purchased semi-automatic weapon to kill 17 people. On Wednesday, March 14, exactly a month after the horrifying event, thousands of Americans students paid tribute to the innocent lives lost with an unprecedented nationwide walkout.

At 10:00 a.m. local time, school kids from Maine to Hawaii left their classrooms for precisely 17 minutes — one for each of the 17 victims. Some held billboards demanding change in gun laws and listened to impassioned speeches from fellow students. Others read the names of each victim or stood quietly around a group of empty chairs. Students at Granada Hills Charter High School in Los Angeles County laid down on the football field to spell out “#ENOUGH.” At Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, which experienced a similar shooting in 1999, the students stayed out for a full 30 minutes – 17 to honor the Parkland victims and 13 in tribute to the 12 students and one teacher killed at their school. Standing side by side in silence, they released red, white, and blue balloons in memory of all the victims.

Granada High School students spell out #enough (Photo Credit: YouTube screen capture)

In Washington D.C., thousands of students and adults gathered near the White House with signs that read "Books Not Bullets" and "Fire Politicians, Not Guns." At 10 a.m. sharp, they turned their backs to the White House and sat in silence for 17 minutes. Parkland students, who are planning a “March For Our Lives” rally at the nation’s capital on March 24, marked the occasion by placing hundreds of pinwheels around the school campus. While the students had initially planned to stay away from classrooms for just 17 minutes, seeing the crowds around the country encouraged many to continue rallying for gun control off campus long after.

"By more than one school doing this, it shows politicians and lawmakers that we want change to happen," senior Audrey Diaz said. "And the next generation is prepared to make that happen."

Tamalpais High School in California (Photo Credit: Siena Romito)

In addition to honoring the victims, participants of the walkout, which was organized by the Women’s March youth branch, also hope to convince US lawmakers to introduce stricter gun laws. Specifically, they want Congress to ban assault weapons, require comprehensive background checks for gun sales, and enact legislation that would allow officials to disarm people who show signs of violent or unstable behavior.

Whether such sweeping gun laws will be passed on a national level remains to be seen. However, the earnest pleas from the Parkland students have already led to reform in Florida. On March 9, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Among other things, it raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, gives officials authority to take away weapons from anyone deemed to be mentally disturbed, and provides funding to increase security in schools.

#Never Again!

Resources: CNN.com, nbcnews.com, Vox.com

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comprehensiveconvinceearnestgenerationimpassionedlegislationparticipantspinwheelsreformreleasedunprecedented
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Reading Comprehension (9 questions)

  1. Why did American students stage a walkout on March 15?
  2. Why did the walkouts last for 17 minutes?
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Critical Thinking Challenge

Do you think the shooting at Stoneman Douglas could have been...

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Vocabulary in Context

“Standing side by side in silence, they  released  red, white, and blue balloons in memory of all the victims.”

In the above sentence, the word   released...

249 Comments
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  • whoThursday, April 19, 2018 at 8:32 am
    #ENOUGH
    • whoThursday, April 19, 2018 at 8:31 am
      Ahhh man
      • whoThursday, April 19, 2018 at 8:28 am
        #NEVER AGAIN!
        • whoThursday, April 19, 2018 at 8:24 am
          #NEVER AGAIN!
          • party girlWednesday, April 18, 2018 at 5:52 pm
            i wish i was old enough to vote we need to fight for justice and keep everyone safe no more guns only use them for good only. only if we can fight for justice
            • no nameSaturday, April 7, 2018 at 5:26 am
              This was a great article and gave me a lot of information for my current events project. I think we can all agree on one thing though, this needs to be stopped. #never again!
              • MynamesjeffThursday, April 5, 2018 at 6:53 pm
                the second amendment protects single shot, not semi-auto
                • A CandianThursday, April 5, 2018 at 11:11 am
                  Gus, The USA is one of the only countries to allow people to have guns, but also has one of the highest gun fatalities rates in the world. I live in Canada, we have very strict gun laws and almost no gun violence. Also, the second admentment was written 200 hundred years ago, you said so yourself. Maybe it is time to update it.
                  • A candianThursday, April 5, 2018 at 10:35 am
                    Saggy, I am Canadian, we don't have the second admentment and we have almost NO gun violence
                    • A Canadian Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 10:32 am
                      Mistyc, how can something designed to kill help create world peace

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