To elevate the conversation of gun control and to instigate widespread changes, these students are leading the March For Our Lives on March 24 in Washington D.C. And their goal is to ban civilian ownership of semi-automatic and automatic weapons.
In addition to Parkland student activists, the march is organized and supported by Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit organization which advocates for gun control and against gun violence. Walkouts have also been organized by other groups including one planned in part by the Women's March organizers. The first will happen on March 14, marking one month since the shooting. The event calls for students and faculty to walk out of their schools at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes, one minute for each life lost in the South Florida shooting. Another is planned for April 20, which marks the 19th year since the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. So far, more than 22,000 people have signed a petition pledging to walk out of the classroom, reports USA Today. The March For Our Lives Twitter shared a list of all the events calling on their followers to support all of them.
"My message for the people in office is: You're either with us or against us. We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around," said high school junior Cameron Kasky during an interview with CNN. In another interview with CBS This Morning, students Delaney Tarr, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and Cameron Kasky questioned lawmakers and what it means to have gun rights as they called for a ban on semi-automatic and automatic assault rifles. "They have no place in civilian society," stated Gonzalez.
Many celebrities have expressed their support of the march as well as announced their plans to march alongside the students including Rowan Blanchard, Justin Bieber, Amber Tamblyn, Amy Schumer, Olivia Wilde, Bryce Dallas Howard, Julianne Moore, and Alyssa Milano.
17 of their classmates and faculty were killed and 14 more were injured when a former, expelled student came to the school armed with an AR-15 rifle. Mere days after surviving the ninth deadliest school shooting in United States history, these students don't believe lawmakers when they say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. "This is about us begging for our lives. This isn’t about the GOP. This isn’t about the Democrats. This is about us creating a badge of shame for any politicians accepting money from the NRA and using us as collateral," Kasky said in the same CNN interview. It is no secret that many of the lawmakers who offer messages of "thoughts and prayers" receive considerable funding from the National Rifle Association. Some are paid sums totaling millions of dollars. Instead of attempting to make it more difficult to purchase a deadly weapon, lawmakers have actually made it easier as recently as this past year.
"Our message is simple: We want to stop the gun violence," students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School told Refinery29.