At 10 a.m. last Wednesday, many thousands of students across our nation walked out of their high school classrooms for 17 minutes, one minute for every victim of the mass shooting on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Immediately after the shooting, grieving students organized themselves into what quickly developed into a swelling nationwide movement aimed at bringing gun violence to an end. They plan to confront members of Congress in a march in Washington, D.C., this Saturday, March 24. Supporters are also planning marches in New York City, Chicago; Miami; San Francisco; Dallas; Boise; West Palm Beach; Liverpool, England; and hundreds of other cities across the world. Currently, there are more than 700 March for Our Lives events planned around the world.
Teenagers are taking the lead in this effort where adult Americans have repeatedly failed to accomplish any significant change in the culture of gun violence. The youth movement is coalescing under the leadership of Stoneman Douglas high school senior Emma Gonzales and junior Cameron Kasky, who are working to make sure that the national outrage in the wake of the shooting at their school actually leads to real action. They aren’t alone in this. To quote their website, “March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.”
Organizers of March For Our Lives demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address gun issues. “Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship,” the young organizers stated. March participants will also register voters at various marches in an effort to ensure that the outrage will translate to high turnout during November’s midterm elections. Many of these students will become 18 by then and will be able to vote.
Supporters of this growing movement argue that we all should be doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing and growing. And becoming leaders.
Unfortunately, the term “The lone grownup in the room,” has become part of our national vocabulary as we witness in horror the puerile actions of our incompetent and dangerous president and the spineless inaction of members of both houses of Congress. When these kids, our best and brightest, show up in their offices, we know who will be the true grownups in the room.