Thousands of students from schools across the country pledged to walk out of their classrooms in protest after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. Now, they’ll finally show lawmakers their strength of support for measures to address gun violence.
Students will step out of their classes at 10:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday for 17 minutes — one minute to honor each of the lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. They also aim to push lawmakers to pass meaningful gun control legislation. Though some school districts support, or at least plan to accommodate, the protests, other districts have promised to discipline students who walk out, and even suspend them.
Organized nationally by the youth branch of the Women’s March, Empower, 3,136 walkouts across the country were planned, according to the organizers’ website. Their slogan, “Never again,” vows to make the school shooting Parkland the last of its kind.
Inspired by the survivors of the Parkland shooting — many of whom have become vocal gun control activists in the last month — Empower has put together a specific list of demands, including a ban on assault-style weapon sales and expanded background checks.
Although Florida just raised the legal age to buy firearms to 21, President Donald Trump backed off his National Rifle Association–opposed gun control reforms on Monday. After the shooting in Parkland, Trump seemed, briefly, committed to gun control. “Take the guns first, go through due process second,” he said at a February meeting with lawmakers. But on Sunday, his administration released a proposal to provide “rigorous” gun training to teachers. A day later, he suggested that states raise the minimum age to buy a gun to 21, citing a lack of support for the raising the age limit in Congress.
Still, students remain committed. Even before Wednesday’s walkout, students around the country had organized various other demonstrations to protest gun violence and demand more stringent gun control measures.
“We are organizing to show our solidarity, and to let those kids in florida know that all the way here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania we’re thinking about you,” high school student Nia Arrington previously told VICE News.
Cover image: Students who walked out of their Montgomery County, Maryland, schools protest against gun violence in front of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)