Teens Walked Out; Here’s Why

Since the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., students all over the country have been walking out, organizing, registering, and leading. In just a few weeks, we have created a movement.

We, the youth, have taken the cause of gun control into our own hands for many reasons. Mostly, because we know this process too well. We remember being little kids and our hearts racing during lockdown drills, sweaty hands, knowing we wouldn’t be completely safe if the drill was real. As we grew older, we became accustomed to these lockdowns until we no longer got as nervous, but still had the knowledge that these drills were in place for a reason, that it happened to innocent kids and could happen to us too. Now, we face the grief and fear of real shootings on a regular basis. This is not a process we should be so familiar with, and that is why we are demanding change. We have come to a consensus that no one should ever have to ask again, “Am I next?” Yes, this is a real question that students ask themselves all the time before going to school, that many people ask themselves before going out. No one feels safe in their schools, homes, streets, or communities, and that needs to change.

A big part of this movement has come out of frustration. We are frustrated with many our of lawmakers, who console us with words instead of action. We are frustrated that our lives are weighed out, and deemed less valuable than money from the NRA. We are frustrated that we have to live in constant fear. More than anything, we are frustrated that these tragic shootings keep happening time after time, now a common occurrence, and nothing is being done. As negative as this frustration and fear is, something very positive has come out of it, and will continue to come out of it: change.

Since we took on this movement just a few weeks ago, new laws and actions have already been proposed to reform gun control. Taking action by doing walkouts, contacting our representatives, registering to vote, and making our voices heard are starting to pay off and will continue to. Politicians have been stepping up to support additional funding for school safety and mental health resources, universal background checks, stricter regulations on assault rifles, and more. To these politicians who have stepped up, we are grateful. To the ones who haven’t yet, we are frustrated but not afraid, because we know you will tire before we will. We will not move on from this cause until every politician steps up and gun control is reformed everywhere. Especially because we are not alone, and are helped by our parents, many academic administrations, and even our rabbis, who are gracious enough to help send some of us to DC to participate and share our voices in the march. We will not give up until thoughts are replaced with action and prayers replaced with laws.

Given that we are so motivated, it is no surprise that this movement is being characterized by its passion and determination. However, these aspects aren’t specific to this cause, they are specific to this generation. Despite being labeled as phone-obsessed and lazy, I have come to believe that my generation is the most engaged, socially conscious, and active one yet. Our activism stretches far beyond gun control to issues like universal healthcare, reproductive rights, climate change and more. We educate ourselves to be progressive by modern terms, becoming engaged in discussions of gender, race, and other identities and issues in our society. We are currently very occupied trying to fight for our lives, but the change-making motivation I see from my peers is one I think will carry out into other causes as well. After adults see the news of our walkouts, testimonies, marches, and more, I have heard many of them say, “these kids give me hope for the future.” As true as this is, my peers, give me hope for the present because our change is happening now.