Students all over the nation walked out of classrooms to join the National School Walkout Day protest on March 14. The rallying cries for gun reform rang loud and clear. From New Jersey to Iceland, student protesters were no longer accepting condolences or comfort from Congress. Instead, they called for changes to be made to prevent mass shootings like at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month.
While it is still unclear what long-term legislation will come out of the walkout, some pressure has been put on lawmakers to make changes. Heavily pro-gun Florida has pushed the National Rifle Association (NRA) to start passing gun restrictions after talking with the Parkland victims’ families according to vox.com. Other states have also started taking gun safety measures. Npr.com reported that California has won in keeping their 10-day waiting period to buy guns against the Supreme Court. Iowa advanced a bill to create active shooter safety plans after the Parkland shooting, and one lawmaker in Illinois is hoping to pass a proposal to ban “ghost guns” assembled by individuals rather than stores or factories.
Some students at Montclair State University also participated in the walkout last Wednesday. Outside of the School of Communication and Media building, students and faculty stood, gave speeches and had a moment of silence for 17 minutes to honor the 17 victims in the Parkland shooting. However, the size of the crowd could have arguably been better.
There are numerous reasons why more students did not participate. Many students may have had class at 10 a.m. and could not miss it. Many students could have been unaware of a walkout taking place on campus or felt there were other ways of protesting gun violence that were more effective than a walkout.
What started on National School Walkout Day is said to continue until April. Going forward, the planning committee for Montclair State University should promote the walkout on different social media platforms to generate a better turnout. They should reach out to more organizations to get the word out. Students who may not want to participate in the walkout can always advocate for gun reform through voting or petitions. Either way, Montclair State students coming together for a cause was still moving to watch.
This weekend, thousands of people are expected to rally for the March for Our Lives march in Washington D.C. on March 24. The protest is a follow-up to the first walkout, and other cities will join them in their own smaller marches around the country. On April 20, another national walkout will take place for the 19th anniversary of the infamous Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. Time will tell what these protests will produce, but it seems the momentum is just getting started.