The Science Survey

“Never Again”: Students Walk Out to Protest Gun Violence

Students+walk+out+of+the+front+entrance+and+onto+Harris+Field+at+10%3A00+a.m.+during+fourth+period.
Students walk out of the front entrance and onto Harris Field at 10:00 a.m. during fourth period.

Students walk out of the front entrance and onto Harris Field at 10:00 a.m. during fourth period.

Alexis Pan

Alexis Pan

Students walk out of the front entrance and onto Harris Field at 10:00 a.m. during fourth period.

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On February 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen students and injured seventeen more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle. To mark a month since the shooting, survivors from M.S.D. led over a million high schoolers in a nationwide school walkout.

On March 14, 2018, nearly 2,000 students from Bronx Science and the High School of American Studies joined in the national movement and walked out of their respective schools to stand on Harris Field in protest of lax nationwide gun regulations and to show solidarity for victims of gun violence. The protest, held from 10:00 to 10:17 a.m., included speeches from Leah Yoes ’18 and Michael Miller ’18, the leading Bronx Science walkout coordinators, as well as Duncan Freeman and Riley Gordon from High School of American Studies.

“Enough is enough!”

Students from both high schools assembled by the bleachers closest to Science. Most prominently, the students held up seventeen posters, each detailing the life of a different Parkland victim. From 10:00 to 10:17 a.m., following a moment of silence directed by Yoes, seventeen students took turns passing megaphones to briefly talk about each lost life. Students who stood on the field brought posters and signs with messages including, “The N.R.A. has blood on its hands,” and “Will I be next?” Students followed each of the seventeen speeches with rallying cries of “Never again!” and “Enough is enough!”

Yoes and Miller spoke following the students on the bleachers, beginning their call to action with a quote from Marjory Stoneman Douglas; “You have to stand up for some things in the world…our political activism cannot exist solely in our bubbles. It’s not enough to be aware, it’s not enough to share that post on Facebook. When we see injustice, we have a moral imperative to take action, to demand a resolution. Today we do more than say never again! Today we transform words into action!”

This protest marks a shift in the discussion about American gun violence; for the first time, students are leading the charge for legislative reform. Using social media as a political platform, some of the upstanding students from M.S.D. focused national attention on policy issues, challenging lawmakers to answer their questions directly and take immediate action.

Students from M.S.D. confronted members of the N.R.A. in a televised debate about the Second Amendment and garnered national support for their proposed policy changes. Florida Senator Marco Rubio was asked by Cameron Kasky point-blank if he would ever accept N.R.A. money after the shooting. The crowd erupted into cheers, but Rubio hesitated.

The N.R.A. and far right pro-gun lobbyists responded to the students political protests by publishing attack ads, questioning the integrity of the protestors, and promoting conspiracy theories that the students were paid actors.

In response, companies such as Delta Air Lines, Metlife, Dicks Sporting Goods, and Walmart have rallied behind the Parkland students and took a stand against the N.R.A. by either cutting ties with them or by making it more difficult to purchase firearms from their stores.

The N.R.A. is scrambling to fix its public image, but the left stands firm in its opposition.
In response to increasing public pressure and student activism activism, the Florida state government passed a gun control and school safety bill known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. The bill, which governor Rick Scott signed on March 9, 2018, raises the minimum age to purchase guns to 21 from 18, and enacts a three-day waiting period for such purchases. The bill also allows teachers — with the consent of the local sheriff’s office and school district — to be armed.

The N.R.A. continues to oppose almost all gun control legislation, and has filed a lawsuit alleging the Florida bill unconstitutional.

This new bill passed as federal bills to improve gun regulations and background checks lost momentum in Washington. It remains to be seen whether progress toward greater afety will continue in other state legislatures or on the federal level.

Miles Conn
David Lipkin ’18 and Leah Yoes ’18 were among the students who spoke during the walkout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miles Conn
A passionate student joins group chants during the walkout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Bedolis
Many students wielded signs during the walkout; some gave speeches via megaphones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miles Conn
Students stood together on the bleachers at Harris Field.

 

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“Never Again”: Students Walk Out to Protest Gun Violence