Tuesday, July 23, 2019
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Opinion: March for Our Lives Walkout

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On February 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz shot and killed seventeen students at Parkland High School. While the shooting was one of almost twenty this year, it was special. Students of the high school spoke out against guns. Many travelled outside of Parkland to talk about gun issues, in the hopes that gun violence will be lessened in the future. Students also organized a National School Walkout. On March 14, one month after the shooting, students across the nation walked out from school in silence for seventeen minutes starting from 10 A.M, for the seventeen victims. Although this walkout had very well-meaning intentions, it was ineffective in causing real change.

One of the critical assumptions it made was that everyone that participated cared deeply about the issue. While this was true for some, others followed for other reasons. At Odle Middle School, protesters could be subdivided into three categories. One, people that cared about the issue. These were people that were leaders in the protest. These people had a fully formed view about the issue and gave insightful responses when asked what they thought. Many of these people were portrayed in local and national media, showing genuine passion. The second group was composed of ‘irrational followers’. When asked what they thought the solution to the shootings issue was, one person responded, “Gun control.” When asked to delve deeper, they were unable to provide a response to what form of gun control they meant. Another person answered, “There is no solution.” Another said to, “Shut up.” These people are different from the national organizers’ demographic due to various misinterpretations. Many have accepted what they have been told, without digging deeper into the issue and forming a viewpoint like the first group. Or, in the case of the third person, does not accept opposing viewpoints, quite the opposite idea of the organizers – to start a dialogue. The third group went solely to skip class. At the Odle Middle School walkout, many students brought phones and laptops, using them as they walked out. The inclusion of the second and third groups severely discredits the walkout, as their responses to questions on their perspective are unformed. Therefore, the walkout seems to have artificially inflated numbers.

Many may compare the recent walkout to the marches of the Civil Rights Movement. However, the newly created movement is radically different. As aforementioned, many do not fully know about or believe in the cause. However, the fundamental problem with the walkout, even with the caring people, is itself. The walkout has not substantially increased lobbying, while the Civil Rights Movement included lobbying at all levels of government. The walkout fails to recognize the ‘republican’ portion in the republican democracy. While many Parkland students realize this, such as during the CNN town hall, where they spoke to senators, organizers in every school do not. After the walkout, many did not lobby, did not put sustained political pressure to the government. The will of the people is not necessarily the action of the government. In order to better achieve their goal, students across the country should talk to their legislators: propose bills, write emails. In this way, the republican system can fully be taken advantage of, to change America, instead of being another one-off.

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