Students across the United States are rising up to demand stricter gun control laws after the Parkland shooting took 17 lives. How can you take part in the movement? The Parkland students have some ideas. One powerful way you can join the movement is by organizing a walkout. Just because March 14th has come and gone, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still get in on the action. Ignore what Tucker Carlson says, we are citizens and we have a say! Try using this handy guide for organizing a walkout at your own school:
Step 1: Research
Create a document showcasing why we need gun control. Have your argument for the cause clearly laid out. There is lots of information out there, here are some articles to check out first,
- Children Are Dying Because Of Americans’ Denial About Guns: “91% of all children who die from firearms in high-income countries across the world come from the United States, and guns are the third leading cause of death for all children between ages 1 and 17”
- At least 265 people were accidentally shot by kids this year: “the boy found a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun on a nightstand next to the bed he was napping in, and shot himself in the head with it. He died two days later at an area hospital.”
- America’s gun culture in 10 charts: “In terms of lobbying, the NRA officially spends about $3m per year to influence gun policy.”
Step 2: Get a Team
Get together a group of supporters. Supporters can be a teacher, your friends or other kids who are interested. Start working on an action plan; decide exactly what you’re doing, how you will spread the message, when will you hold the walkout (the official walkout days are March 14 and April 20) and try to gauge how open your school administration will be to this idea so you can prepare for the next step…
Step 3: Talk to the Administration
Email your principal or talk to teachers and other people who work in your school about whether they would be open to a walkout. In my school the administration was very supportive of students walking out, however not all schools have been so happy about students taking part in political action. If they are not supportive that doesn’t mean you can’t walk out, remember schools can’t suspend a whole grade and may not bother trying with the threat of legal challenges. Also, many prestigious colleges have said they will not count a suspension caused by political action against prospective students when they apply, so continue without fear!
Step 4: Get the rest of your school on board
Either the hardest or easiest step. It seems like it would be hard to get a big group of high schoolers to do anything; especially if you don’t have the administration’s blessing and it could lead to punishment, but there have been reports of random walkouts with very little organization working very well. If you do not have the administration‘s blessing, try spreading the word through friend groups and social media. Make sure everyone knows exactly when it will be to avoid confusion. If you have the administration’s blessing make announcements and hold an assembly if you can.
Step 5: Alert the media
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody sees it or hears it, did it fall? Yes. But nobody cares. Your walkout doesn’t mean anything or make any effect if nobody sees it. Send an email to your local news channels and newspapers telling them when the walkout will be, who organized it and your reasons for walking out, also make sure you have a student documenting the experience. While you’re at it, register! Tell the movement you’re supporting that you’re having a walkout so they count you. You can register for the March 14 walkout here.
Step Six: Walk Out! (Try not to forget this part)
Now that you have some experience and a group of supporters, find a new cause you’re passionate about and do it all again!