National School Walkout: Thousands Of Teenagers Walk Out Of School To Call For Change In Gun Laws

Lynne SladkyAP Images

The National School Walkout began at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time today, with thousands of high school students walking out of class to protest gun violence, CNN is reporting. Companion events are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. local time in each time zone.

Stoneman Douglas student Sam Zeif, referring to news footage of students across the East Coast walking out of class, was overwhelmed with the support.

“[There’s a] sea of people everywhere. You can barely see the ground.”

In Hoboken, New Jersey, students held signs that said such things as “I am a bullet-free zone,” and “Chalk not Glocks!”

In Raleigh, North Carolina, according to WTVD-TV (Raleigh), Apex Friendship High School student Josie Read told a reporter that she favors gun control.

“I think there needs to be stricter control… obviously, we can’t eliminate all guns but staring something and starting the moment and getting people talking about it is, I think, I big that needs to happen.”

Another North Carolina high school, however, saw their protest marred by a threat from social media. As The News & Observer reports, the planned walkout at Raleigh’s Broughton High School was delayed by a threat on Snapchat. It is unclear, as of this writing, what was specifically threatened.

An hour after the first wave of protests began, the second round began in the Central Time Zone, at 10:00 a.m. local time.

In the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, Missouri, students at Clayton High School were warned not to walk out of class, on pain of detention. However, according to the Clayton Patch, students didn’t heed the warning, and hundreds of them walked out anyway. Besides calling for stricter gun laws simply by walking out of class, the Missouri students are taking things a step further, including hosting a voter registration drive to protest what they consider are Missouri’s “lax” gun laws.

The National School Walkout has been in the works for one month now, following the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Unlike some previous school shootings, the Parkland School Shooting seems to have energized the teenagers themselves, both in the community and nationwide. Several Parkland survivors have become activists in favor of gun control, and the students’ movement has galvanized into a national trend, exemplified by the social media hashtag #NeverAgain.

Whether or not the students’ calls for stricter gun control will result in success remains to be seen. Already the Justice Department has moved to ban so-called “bump stocks,” which can enable some weapons to fire more rounds faster, and the president has called for tighter background checks and arming teachers. Trump’s call to raise the minimum age to buy certain firearms from 18 to 21, however, has been strongly opposed by the gun-rights group the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has sued Florida after Governor Rick Scott signed legislation that does just that.

Companion National School Walkouts are scheduled to take place at 10:00 a.m. in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones, and still later in Hawaii.