By Shannon Steinkamp
Thousands of students walked out of classrooms on Wednesday, exactly one month after a deadly shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead. Survivors of the shooting joined the protest.
“There were lots of emotions, many people were crying. We were thinking of the 17 we lost,” said a Junior from Stoneman Douglas, Florence Yared. She and other students from the highschool protested at the school’s football field.
Students from Brooklyn to Georgia and Virginia planned protests. Most lasted 17 minutes, each minute to honor the slain victims from Parkland, Florida.
The aim of protesters was to advocate for new gun safety legislation. The legislation would include universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Ideas proposed by the NRA like fortifying schools with fences and schools being guarded by armed teachers were opposed.
“Let’s work together to secure our schools and stop school violence,” said the NRA during the prottest. The groups Twitter account then tweeted a picture of a semi-automatic rifle with an American flag sticker.
There were no statements released by President Trump or the White House.
A Sign of the Times
The young protestors may be a sign of America’s changing opinion about firearms. Poll reports have shown that seven in ten citizens believe the country should have stricter gun laws - the highest number in 20 years.
According to a poll from Monmouth University, 83% of Americans want background checks for all gun purchases, including private sales. An even more staggering figure suggests that 69% of NRA members support comprehensive background checks.
Membership in the gun policy reform group, Everytown for Gun Safety, had a 25% increase in membership in the two weeks after the Parkland shooting. Numerous corporations increased the age limits for purchasing guns, and many stopped selling semi-automatic rifles.
A Step in the Right Direction
Gun law advocates believe this is a huge step for the regulation of firearms. Many activists have their sights set on midterm elections in November, and they hope pro-gun legislators are voted out of office.
Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, tweeted, “While Congress sits on its hands, students like my son will stand and walk out of school this morning to demand action on gun violence.