Stand up, walk out

Students should support local initiatives to curb gun-violence

op-leditenough-CourtesyU.Va.StudentCouncil

On March 14, students will have the opportunity to come together on the Lawn to show solidarity with the students of Stoneman Douglas, and call on elected officials to take action. 

Courtesy U.Va. Student Council

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting on Feb. 14 joins the long American tradition of gun violence. No other country’s civilians own as many guns or suffer as many domestic gun-related fatalities. Yet even after the wake of this most recent deadly shooting in Florida, lawmakers at both the state and federal level have been complacent. Because of their political inaction, Stoneman Douglas high schoolers have organized to push for significant reforms, generating over 2.8 million dollars in fundraising for the March For Our Lives as well as creating a significant social movements on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board endorses their #ENOUGH National School Walkout campaign, and encourages University students to participate in local events coordinated by Student Council and the Minority Rights Coalition

The escalation of gun violence impacting American students has reached a fever pitch. This phenomenon arose in the 1970s, with the shootings getting deadlier as time progressed. These shootings have varied from college campuses, such as that of Virginia Tech’s, to elementary school classrooms, such as the Sandy Hook tragedy. 

A common denominator of these shootings is the weapon of choice by their perpetrators — the AR-15. The weapon’s military equivalents — the M16 and M4 rifles — enable the systematic decimation of human victims. These guns have both the precision and the power to cause immediate death to their targets. In addition, the AR-15 rifle can be modified with a bump stock — an attachable feature that gives it the capacity of an automatic rifle — effectively granting military grade weapons to civilians. As of present day, only seven states and the District of Columbia have banned bump stocks. 

Participating in these local events is an important step towards addressing the increasing severity of gun violence in school settings. On March 14, students will have the opportunity to come together on the Lawn to show solidarity with the students of Stoneman Douglas, and call on elected officials to take action. Later that evening, the MRC will be hosting the Solidarity March to End Gun Violence, which will begin in the Amphitheater. The student activists of Stoneman Douglas are standing up so these weapons of war are revoked from civilian use — and University students should join the fight. 

The United States is in dire need of gun reform to protect civilian lives. The national walkouts scheduled on March 14, a month after the shootings in Florida, are effective symbolic actions for American students to participate in — no longer are schools guaranteed to be safe. The board implores college students to show solidarity with their high school counterparts. No longer can we assume that opportunity to learn does not come with possible risk to our lives. As the organizers from Florida stated, these future walkouts and marches truly are measures to “save our lives.” In light of these realities, University students should also evaluate the ways in which we can exact change. Walk out. Call your legislators. March. The time has come for meaningful change — let’s remember that we are also not invincible in the face of forces of evil. Let’s institute effective public policy to keep harm at bay.

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