By Lorin Enns
In the wake of the school shooting on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, talk of stricter gun laws has once again come to light. 17 were injured and an additional 17 people lost their lives at the hands of Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student who was expelled from Stoneman Douglas High for disciplinary problems. He entered the school at 2:21 p.m. with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and began shooting. News outlets flooded screens with updates as the situation unfolded, but the real question behind the pain and heartache: could this have been prevented?
Since the attack, protests have taken the nation by storm. Students walked out of class by the thousands in country-wide demonstrations to honor those lost in the Stoneman shooting and demanded that gun laws be changed. Teenagers in major cities and hundreds of smaller towns alike participated in one of the largest school walkouts in history, comparable to the dissidents of the 1960s Vietnam war protest, where students wore black armbands to speak out against the violence. Students sported orange attire and shirts that read #NeverAgain to represent awareness for gun violence.
“The shirt’s main goal was to make us look like a unified front,” junior Rayne Hayes, who sold and distributed shirts, said. “We didn’t take any money from the shirts; we donated it all to Everytown for Gun Safety.”
Teen protesters made headlines all across the country, including those at Columbine High School who walked out for 30 minutes, 17 minutes for the students killed in Parkland and another 13 for those who were killed in the infamous Columbine shooting. Another student walkout is scheduled for Friday, April 20, the 19-year anniversary of the Columbine massacre; however, this one is different than the last. Protesters participating in the second walkout since the attack in Florida are expected to walk out and not come back, pushing the limits of school rules in demands that their government listen to them. An Instagram account has been created specifically to provide Coronado students with information about the demonstration.
Civil disobedience is not a new practice. Throughout history, especially within the last 100 years, groups of people have peacefully protested their oppressors, using non-violence to bring about a shift in society. Gandhi’s salt march to the sea to boycott the use of British goods, along with Martin Luther King Jr. and his peaceful fight against a prejudice and segregated nation were causes diverting from the norm to push for change. Today, our nation is divided in a different way, but students are taking things into their own hands to change that.
This second walkout, however, is different from the first. Due to the nature of Friday’s walkout, where participants will walk out and stay out, students can be marked truant and are urged to weigh their options and consider the impact of the consequences for themselves. Despite the consequences, a handful of students are still expected to walk out.
“I never want to feel obligated to dilute my voice or opinion to appeal to other people,” Zoe Tinson, senior, said. “The system in place is broken and hurting so many people, which means that something has to be wrong with it. If people just obey the oppressor, nothing is going to change. I’ve found that there are always consequences for every action when you’re not conforming to a set system, and those consequences always have to be worth it. For me, having control over my voice and the ability to take some form of action will always be more important than following a set of rules that is constantly negatively affecting society.”