1150 GMT September 23, 2018
The #ENOUGH National School Walkout began with 17-minute walkouts commemorating the 17 students and staff killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, Reuters wrote.
The massacre was the latest in a series of shootings that have plagued US schools for nearly two decades.
The walkouts were part of a burgeoning, grassroots movement that grew out of the Parkland attack. Some of the survivors have lobbied state and federal lawmakers, and even met with President Donald Trump, to call for new restrictions on gun ownership, a right protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.
“We don’t feel safe in schools anymore,” Sarah Chatfield said. A 15-year-old high school student from Maryland, Chatfield had joined a crowd of hundreds protesting outside the White House, with some sitting silent with their backs turned.
“Trump is talking about arming teachers with guns,” she said. “That is not a step in the right direction.”
Soon after, some of the students began marching towards Capitol Hill. “Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go!” they chanted, referring to the powerful gun-rights interest group, the National Rifle Association.
The Parkland survivors’ efforts helped bring about a tightening of Florida’s gun laws last week, when the minimum age for buying any kind of gun was raised to 21 years from 18, although lawmakers there rejected a ban on the sort of semiautomatic rifle used in the Parkland attack.
In Washington, however, plans to strengthen the background-check system for gun sales, among other measures, appear to be languishing.
Students from more than 2,800 schools and groups are joining the walkouts, many with the backing of their school districts, according to the event’s organizers, who also coordinated the Women’s March protests staged nationwide over the past two years.
Florida prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the Parkland attack.