At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, thousands of students across the country walked out of class not only to advocate for stronger gun control, but to stand with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. A month prior to the walkout, Marjory Stoneman Douglas was the site of a mass shooting in which seventeen were killed and seventeen more were injured. Many students at John Adams High School in Ozone Park, N.Y. participated in this event – standing out in the cold to support those who were devastated by this tragedy. As with many movements, this led to the creation of new ideas and the change of previously held beliefs.
“Stricter gun laws,” said Shannon Heesemann, a 17-year-old John Adams’ senior, when asked how she thinks we can improve safety conditions for schools. “It’s scary knowing that just about anyone in this country, depending on which state you live in, can own a gun. I believe if we had stricter gun laws, it would prevent a lot of tragedies like in Florida.”
Heeseman was not the only student who advocated for better gun control. Khatrina Bissoon, an 18-year-old senior, shared a similar sentiment: “Get rid of guns entirely,” Bisson demanded. “Or if do we do have to have them, make it insanely difficult to get them.”
“I feel like the best way to prevent something like that from happening again is to be more aware of what goes on in other people’s minds because although one person may look fine, they could be going through a tough time,” said 17-year-old senior Justin Olave. “And also, we should be more assertive of this idea of providing schools with items to protect the students without having to continue telling us to hide behind the wall because although that will be effective it won’t promise the safest alternative to the situation.”
The students who participated want to see change take place: Prevent these tragedies which are happening repeatedly and devastate the country as a whole. Some students at John Adams High School encouraged authorities to take notice and make changes to prevent these crimes. However, there were those who did not agree with the walk out, and did not participate with the other students.
Alternatively, some students offered another perspective, believing that this passive event is not powerful enough to initiate a change. Some students believe this event may encourage change in the wrong way in John Adams, such as Elahie Baksh.
“I am not participating in the Nationwide school walkout to protest for gun control because I believe we don’t need gun control,” said Baksh, a 17-year-old senior. “We need gun safety, and school safety. The more gun laws we have will make criminals feel obligated to get weapons on the black market and the laws will prevent good citizens from protecting themselves.”
A student who chose to remain anonymous stated that they were a bit confused by the purpose of the walkout in the first place. “Whom are we expressing our frustration to?,” they asked. “If the purpose of this event is to commemorate the lives of these students, why should we walk out in a manner that is equivalent to a protest? I get that many participants believe that this is an empowering event to rally against the gun laws in our nation, and that this would commemorate the lost lives.” Another prestigious student, Richard Khaimraj, said “there holds no honor by walking out and just saying you did it for the cause. Be the cause.”