Students lead nationwide protests for stricter gun laws

School shootings, lax gun laws spark teens to stand up to lawmakers


Akira Copeland

Students gather in the courtyard on March 14 for a 17-minute moment of silence for the victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14. The massacre left 17 people dead and led to a national movement by students for lawmakers to work harder on gun control.

Brandon Teeny , Staff Reporter

The Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., left 17 people dead. Since then, students around the country have been at the forefront of a movement against gun violence, trying to force politicians into moving toward stricter gun laws.

On March 8, students and community leaders gathered at Chief Sealth High School for a town hall discussion with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on how to stop gun violence. One of the main topics was the use of assault weapons and the possibility of banning them in our city.

Speaking to students, parents, teachers and online viewers, Mayor Durkan said she intends to empower community organizations as the city works to stop shootings in neighborhoods and schools.

Akira Copeland
Junior Xavier LeBrun addresses the crowd of stu- dents who walked out of class on March 14. LeBrun organized the protest in response to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

“Seattle wants to do everything it can on preventative violence,” Durkan said. “It is clear that Washington, D.C. is not going to act, and it unfortunately seems to be clear that Olympia will not act.”

Durkan said it was “unfortunate” that cities are prohibited under state law from taking action over gun control, but maintained she will fight for students and their safety.

“We will continue to push Olympia to give us the powers to protect our children and our communities.”

Gregory Pleasant is a junior from Rainier Beach High School and a member of an organization called Youth for Peace. He said that city leaders need to look beyond accessibility to guns.

“You must look at the situations and the environments that they are living in, and where they feel like it’s necessary [to own guns],” he said.

In response to the Florida shooting and the lack of action from politicians, students across the country walked out of school on March 14. Joined by some staff members, they had 17 minutes of silence to honor the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting.

Students at Cleveland were able to say a few words about their thoughts on gun control. The turnout was solid, with more than 100 students gathering in the courtyard.

Junior Xavier LeBrun, the organizer of the walk-out, said the event was successful.

Cleveland Publications
Dr. Fred Rivara of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, second from right, answers a question during a town hall discussion around gun violence at Chief Sealth High School on March 8. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, le , assured the audience that she is pushing for stricter gun laws in the city.

“We had a lot of people there, and then the 17 minutes of silence was pretty powerful and I think it hit with a lot of people.”

To rally against gun violence and the National Rife Association (NRA), students and survivors of the Parkland shooting organized “March For Our Lives,” a nation-wide protest on March 24.

In Seattle, thousands of people of all ages marched from Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill to Seattle Center, waving signs, chanting and cheering. On top of bearing hashtags #MarchForOurLives and #NeverAgain, many of the signs included thoughts on gun rights and school safety. Some signs focused on raising the minimum age to buy a gun (it is now 18), while others dissed the NRA.