On Friday, April 20th, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, students from over 2,500 schools walked out of class to protest gun violence. The two perpetrators of the Columbine High School massacre claimed the lives of 13 victims and inflicted injuries on an additional 24 using both guns and explosive devices.
In the wake of the February 14th school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students organized the massive March For Our Lives (https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/26/us/march-for-our-lives/index.html). Activists raised $3.5 million dollars, launched the #NeverAgain hashtag, and drew an estimated 200,000 protestors to Washington, D.C. alone. This protest garnered media attention across the country and sparked a debate on both gun control and mental health policies.
Organizers promised that there was more to come, and this memorial march is proof of their tenacity. The focus is now on long-term results with an eye for transforming youth culture into a politically charged landscape (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/school-walkout-columbine-anniversary_us_5ad9eb75e4b0e4d0715fbd0d). Students protesting in D.C. began their march at the White House and walked to the Capitol building. There were also opportunities to register to vote and reach out to victims of gun violence through cards and letters, and education about gun control was a major theme of the day’s events.
With the protests well underway, a school shooting occurred in Ocala, Florida, at Forest High School (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/1-student-injured-in-florida-high-school-shooting-amid-national-walkouts-over-gun-violence), with one student injured. Nearly two decades after Columbine, there are still many questions about how to protect America’s children from gun violence.