News World US students walkout over gun violence in schools

US students walkout over gun violence in schools

students walkout National School Walkout
Students all over the United States have walked out of school to protest against gun violence. Photo: Getty
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Tens of thousands of students have walked out of classrooms across the United States in a unprecedented call for tighter gun safety laws following the deadly Florida school shooting.

Students waved signs and chanted their demands in a massive show of solidarity with a movement spearheaded by survivors of the February 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre that claimed 17 lives.

The walkouts, held under the hashtags #ENOUGH and #NationalSchoolWalkout began at 10am local time on Wednesday.

The students left their classrooms for 17 minutes, honouring the 17 students and staff killed.

The massacre was the latest in a series of shootings that have plagued US schools for nearly two decades.

Students from more than 2800 schools and groups joined the walkouts, many of which had the backing of their school districts.

At Fiorello H LaGuardia High School in New York City, crowds of students poured into the streets of Manhattan, many dressed in orange, the colour of the gun-control movement.

“Thoughts and prayers are not enough,” read one sign, needling the rote response many lawmakers make after mass shootings.

At 10am, the hundreds of students sat down on the footpath, filling half a city block, and fell silent, with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo joining the students to protest for stricter gun laws.

Students also marched on President Trump’s hotel in New York City, chanting “hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?”

In Parkland, thousands of students slowly filed on to the Stoneman Douglas school football field to the applause of families and supporters beyond the fences as law enforcement officers looked on.

News helicopters thrummed overhead.

The walkouts were part of a burgeoning, grassroots movement that grew out of the Parkland attack.

Some of the survivors have lobbied state and federal lawmakers, and even met with President Donald Trump, to call for new restrictions on gun ownership, a right protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

“We don’t feel safe in schools anymore,” Sarah Chatfield said. A 15-year-old high school student from Maryland, Chatfield had joined a crowd of hundreds protesting outside the White House, with some sitting silent with their backs turned.

“Trump is talking about arming teachers with guns,” she said. “That is not a step in the right direction.”

Soon after, some of the students began marching toward Capitol Hill. “Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go!” they chanted, referring to the powerful gun-rights interest group, the National Rifle Association.

The Parkland survivors’ efforts helped bring about a tightening of Florida’s gun laws last week, when the minimum age for buying any kind of gun was raised to 21 years from 18, although lawmakers there rejected a ban on the sort of semiautomatic rifle used in the Parkland attack.

In Washington, however, plans to strengthen the background-check system for gun sales, among other measures, appear to be languishing.

Students from more than 2800 schools and groups joined the walkouts, many with the backing of their school districts.

Support has also come from the American Civil Liberties Union and Viacom Inc, which said all seven of its networks, including MTV, suspended programming on the east coast during the 17-minute walkout there.