“We Will Not Stop Marching”

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Niagara Falls High School students walkout on 19th anniversary of Columbine

By: Nicholas D. D’Angelo

Friday, April 19th, 2018, marked the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Colorado’s Columbine  High School that took the lives of twelve students and one teacher.

In memory of those that lost their life, in Columbine and every subsequent shooting, students from across the United States walked out of schools on Friday at 10:00am.

The issue, which has traditionally flared up when tragedy strikes before simmering out shortly after, has managed to stay in the forefront after the most recent mass-shooting at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14th, 2018.

Joining tens of thousands of students across the United States, several Niagara Falls High School students walked out of school and proceeded to march to City Hall where several students gave speeches to a small crowd.

Due to their age and the controversial nature of this issue, the Niagara Reporter will not publish the students’ names.

“We are not going to stop marching. We are not going to stop reaching. We are not going to stop speaking about this until we make a change,” said one student.

Another spoke into a megaphone, saying, “we will not be silent. We will continue to march. We will continue to speak. They want to shut us down. They want to take away our voice. We need to continue to speak up. After today, what will happen? That is why we must talk to our officials. Talk to our representatives. We need to vote. We need to make sure that the people we have in [office] right now are not re-elected. We need to make sure that change happens. After today, we need to make sure that our voices are still heard and that our concerns are not swept under the carpet. We are sick and tired of being scared in our schools.”

Another girl said, “we are being active. When we are being active we are pushing against the things that push us down. We are pushing against the thing that is making us afraid at school because when you don’t care and are inactive everything spirals out of control.”

“School is somewhere you should feel safe,” said another student. “That is compromised because of all this hatred we have in the world today. We need to stand up and we need to speak out and use our voices and empower each other to make change.”

Mental health was another issue that came up, as one student said, “we need more people who are going to take care of our mental health. We need more health care that will help people who have mental issues,” she said. “My kindness is not going to be the next thing that stops that school shooter from shooting me.”

Altogether, there were an estimated  150,000 students who participated in more than 2,500 walkouts across the nation. This demonstration marks the second nationwide walkout since the shooting at Parkland, Florida.

One student, however, was not convinced walking out was the most effective way to bring about change.

“I agree with the spirit of it,” he said, “but I don’t think most of these students walking out even know what the solution is; or what it should be.”

“They don’t understand what it takes to pass legislation or know anything about the 2nd Amendment and how the Supreme Court has ruled on it in the past.”

“There is a solution to the gun issue out there. Maybe it’s to ban assault weapons. Maybe it’s to have metal detectors at school. But I can tell you one thing that won’t solve it; any of these attention-seeking demonstrations.”

The gun debate inspires a conversation unlike many others in our society. Since Parkland, I have heard a number of questions being asked:

Since when have students at Niagara Falls High School, which was modeled after a prison, not felt safe?

Was the 2nd Amendment meant to include assault weapons?

Does a citizen really need an assault weapon?

If assault weapons were banned, would that stop school shootings?

If all law-abiding citizens’ assault weapons are taken, will all violence with them stop?

Would an assault weapons ban have prevented the Parkland, Florida, shooting?

Why are children, who might be eating tide pods their spare time, shaping our political conversations?

What are the practical solutions to preventing school shootings?

Is an assault weapons ban going to have any effect on the crime in Niagara Falls?

If one thing is for sure, it’s that the debate will continue.






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