Students Up in Arms Over the Right To Bear Arms

Multiple shots have been heard around the world since the beginning of 2018. So far this year, there have been 17 school shootings in the United States. Throughout the country, people are mourning the loss of their loved ones and are praying that this series of tragedies will cease with no more lives taken.

After the 17 lives that were lost in Parkland, Florida on February 14 this year, teenagers everywhere have had enough — including Cedar Shoals students. High schoolers are outraged by recent events and the lack of action made by government officials. They have chosen to speak up for themselves.

Senior Zach Holland and fellow classmates have been working to organize a school walkout at Cedar on April 20. The walkout will start at 10 AM and students will gather to peacefully protest, give speeches, share thoughts, and make a stand.  

“My goal with organizing this walkout for our school is to get more people at Cedar to be passionate about things that affect them and their community: a will to stand up. We want to show people higher up that there are a lot of teenagers who care about what’s going on, and that we want change,” said Holland.

Students have circulated information about the walkout by utilizing online tools and social media like Instagram.

April 20 will be the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting that took place in Jefferson County, Colorado in 1999. Students all across the United States will be walking out of class at 10 AM.

“I think our faculty will be very supportive [of the student walk out]. For the most part, we have a very student centered and aware faculty. I think they will be very supportive of the process and I will make sure they know that I am supportive of this process too,” said Mrs. DeAnne Varitek, Principal.

Since the Columbine school shooting in 1999, there have been 270 school shootings. The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994 attempted to address this issue decades ago. This act prohibited the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms it defined as assault weapons, including the AR-15, as well as certain ammunition. This ban on assault weapons expired in 2004.

Since 2004, there have been 189 school shootings in the United States. That’s an average of about 13 shootings per year; however, in the first 3 months of 2018 there have already been 17. In just 12 weeks, the number of cases has closed in on previous national records.

Since the Parkland shooting on Valentine’s Day, there have been nationwide plans for protests. On March 14, students walked out of school at 10 AM gathering in peaceful protest. The walkouts lasted 17 minutes for the 17 lives lost at Parkland. Clarke County schools were on spring break during this time, so students did not organize to join.

10 days later, on March 24 the nationwide March for Our Lives took place. This march was based in Washington, D.C., but communities across the nation took a stand. 800,000 protesters rallied in D.C., and over 600 stood together at the University of Georgia Arch.

Cedar Shoals students have been working with administration to organize the walkout in a way that will provide a forum for student voice while minimally disrupting the school day.

“I would absolutely support students in speaking up. We as a faculty should be alongside our students, and I would absolutely attend and support my students,” said Mr. William Lee, English department member and co-sponsor of Student Government Association.

Not all students are as thrilled about the walkout as others.

“I have no problem with any citizen exercising their first amendment right to freedom of speech and doing everything they can to raise awareness for their cause. I think that’s a great thing and it’s one of the redeeming qualities of this country.  However, I don’t think that protesting school by walking out is the best way to go about it,” said Andrew BeMent, junior.

Students planning to participate obviously view things differently.

“We aren’t just a group supporting one stance on this issue, there are a lot of us and we all have different ideas but we all want to see change happen. So any students at Cedar who want to see change, please join us on April 20,” said Holland.