To mark the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students across the country and around the globe walked out of their classrooms on March 14 in a peaceful protest for gun law reform and to remember the lives lost that day.
Thousands of students participated in marches through the streets to government buildings throughout the country, armed with signs and chanting while others observed in silence and prayer.
The walkout began at 10 a.m. and lasted 17 minutes to honor the 17 that died that day.
“The Second Amendment was written for guns that fired one shot per minute, and those do not do the damage of guns that civilians have today,” said Beka Leininger, senior visual arts major. “No civilian needs an automatic weapon.”
Leininger contacted her professor Duncan Simcoe, professor of visual arts, about exiting his class in peaceful protest and Simcoe elected to join with the rest of his students in tow.
Friends of Leininger followed the class past the California Baptist University Seal in Stamps Courtyard to the front entrance on Magnolia Avenue, where they discussed their desires for change and sat in silence and respect.
“[The walkout] agrees with my own ideas about the subject and I look at this as an absolutely necessary function of moral conscious,” Simcoe said. “If we do nothing, our good ideas are also, in effect, nothing.”
The students called Congress to declare gun violence a public health crisis, ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, expand background checks to all gun sales and pass the Federal Gun Violence Restraining Order.
After gaining permission from her professor, Angelica Garcia, junior public relations major, was one of two in her classroom to participate in the walkout. She said she did not want to miss out on the opportunity to honor the lives lost as a result of pressure to stay.
“I used to be that person — I used to be scared,” Garcia said. “When I first came to CBU I would have never participated in something, but with the times changing and everything becoming so intense, you just have to stand up and do it.”
With the spike in gun violence, the matter of how to deal with mental health must be reexamined, Simcoe said, as it has been degraded as a national priority since the Reagan Era. With violence as a form of entertainment in this modern age, society and culture are at risk, he said.
“There seems to be a perfect storm of availability of military-style weapons and a culture that views violence as entertainment and regularly ingests hyper-violence in its entertainment,” Simcoe said. “We are encoded in our spirits that this could be a solution, an option.”
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School continued their stance and ralled in Washington D.C. March 24 for stricter gun laws, seeking to prove the voice of change is no longer limited to lawmakers but has been extended to the youth and the future.