The Oracle

Gun control protest on Capitol Hill

Dina Tidd, Buisness Assistant

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“Never Again”— the message conveyed by students who wish for change for a safer world. On April 20th, activists for gun control marched on the grounds of the Capitol Building, as well as around the country to protest the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. April 20th marks the 19th anniversary of that shooting and over 2,600 high school walkouts occurred. Students left their classrooms around 10am and held a moment of silence for 19 minutes for the 19th anniversary of the shooting.
Throughout the last decade, teenage activism has minimalized until recently because of many recent shootings. The goal of the walkout was to get legislatures to discuss gun laws with constituents and put pressure on the lawmakers to change the laws regarding obtaining guns. Junior Laura Kirk was able to organize and speak during the walkout.
“The purpose of the walkout was to honor the lives that have been lost to gun violence since Columbine, and call on our elected officials to take action against gun violence. We had to show Congress that we were not going away — we are a movement, not a moment. We sent a clear message — enact change, or we will vote you out in November,” said Kirk.
With the reoccurring walkouts, students are hoping that change will occur soon.
“I think that [gun control laws] will change because of the walkouts occurring and social media, along with the next generation of voters that will hopefully vote for [anti-gun] candidates,” said sophomore Maya Betts.
A persisting issue with the walkouts during school is the administrators instructing the teachers to give unexcused absences to students who participated. This is seen by many students as a suppression of freedom of speech for a cause that can protect their lives as well as future students’ lives.
“I think [the school] should [allow us to walkout] because it is changing the world and America and we are not just walking out to leave class, [we are doing it] because we have a good reason,” said Betts.
During the event, Kirk was able to express why she helped organize it and what she believes is the best method to protect American people.
“I [want] to live in a world where I can feel safe. America is the only developed country in the world with a gun violence epidemic, and we have the power to change that. Common sense gun legislation is the best place to start, and I walked out to tell Congress just that,” said Kirk.
Students are beginning to demand change because they would like to feel safe. Schools were designed to be an environment in which a student can feel safe and also gain an education without having to worry about a shooting occurring at their own school.
“I believe that we need stricter laws and we need to see something change because all I have ever known is a world in which shootings have occurred and it has become normalized,” said Betts.

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West Springfield High School Newspaper
Gun control protest on Capitol Hill