My walkout experience started at around 9:50 in morning. I happened to be near the organizers, dressed in orange, who began to shout, “the people united will not be defeated.” I ended up towards the very front of the march, people started to come in the masses. We stood there for a while, chanting, and waiting for the march to begin. Then, at 10 am, we began to march. Those moments felt empowering, and there was certainly a sense of unity and change. However, the March was far from perfect. Since my school decided to hold the March during free period on purpose, against the student organizers’ wishes, many students were walking out without much awareness about these issues. It also allowed for a small group of anti gun control hecklers, which consisted of about 10 boys, and about 200 viewers watching like they were outside a fish bowl on the second floor balcony.
Moreover, I stand more moderately than some on this issue. I see a need for community intervention for the mentally ill, banning of assault rifles, and increased background checks. The idea of an ‘anti walkout’, which was proposed by a few of my peers, was not logical in this instance. These people, who are normally advertised as “2nd Amendment supporters” on Instagram, lack the understanding that they could have simply not made a big deal about it, or they could have instead walked out in memory of the 17 lives in Parkland and countless more. The supporters of the fringe movement has quickly become a breeding ground for hate. I walked out knowing that a conversation needs to happen. In addition to walking out, I also emailed our local sergeant about getting more school resource officers. The officer seemed self satisfied in the meager force we currently have- despite the facts that I displayed to him. He also used financial issues as an excuse.
The March for Our Lives took place on March 24th, 2018. I attended the rally and march in Santa Ana, California, which was calling for gun control. It began at 2 p.m. with thousands of people listening to students and teachers give speeches on the stage, sharing their stances on the issue, or their emotional experiences with gun violence. One student, Saranyan Uthayakumar, told YNS that “Speaking was an opportunity not only for student leadership in a cause, but to let our politicians know that there’s a generation of people who still care about the issues that our politicians ignore. Our young generation is going to hold them accountable for their inaction.” Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, (also a candidate for governor), was the most notable speaker of the march. What I found most interesting was his point about how the most famous leaders in history, like Gandhi and MLK, were not politicians. Newsom’s overall message to the protesters was, “You don’t have to be something to do something.”
The march itself was amazing. They specifically asked students to go towards the front, as we are the ones who are quite literally leading this movement. Some of the common chants were, “Hey hey ho ho the NRA has got to go” and, “Show us what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like.” I personally liked seeing thousands of teenagers and adults unite behind this issue. To take the issue to Washington, Amnesty International has a booth to write letters to your local house representative.
All of this is why the movement is so important. We have waited too long for change to happen, and people are dying because of it. Every concerned citizen should be supporting. Some critics from the right say that young people should be keeping their nose out of gun control, such as Rick Santorum, who suggest kids should take CPR classes instead of protesting. The truth is, we know about this issue first hand. School shootings, and mass shootings in general, are far too common. Politicians who are strong constitutionalists are “afraid of the NRA” in Donald Trump’s words, because they are getting large amounts of funding from the organization.
Either politicians have to change their view or the NRA does. The NRA has not even changed its stance to raise gun purchases to age 21. They have already painted themselves as the bad guys by their inaction. Redeeming themselves is highly unlikely, but the NRA has to make a change before they start losing members and money to fund the gun lobby.