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#NationalSchoolWalkout Underway Because "Guns Don't Die. Children Do."

Students demand legislation to end gun violence and remember victims on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school massacre

walkout

Students from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia joined the National School Walkout on April 20, 2018 and marched to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Students walked out of classrooms across the country at 10am local time on Friday—the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school massacre—for the latest in a series of recent youth-led demonstrations to demand stricter gun laws.

Student protesters and their supporters shared updates from walkouts throughout the country with the hashtag #NationalSchoolWalkout.

Mounting calls to enhance gun control through state and federal legislation have come in response to a series of mass school shootings—most recently in February, when a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Parkland, Florida. Parkland survivors have played key roles in driving this national movement to end gun violence.

In solidarity with students from more than 2,000 U.S. high schools who planned to protest on Friday, students from Chapel Hill, North Carolina walked out while chanting, "Guns don't die. Children do."

Students in Washington, D.C. gathered outside the U.S. Capitol and the White House to remember victims of gun violence, including those killed at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. On Thursday, students from Columbine High School hosted a "Vote For Our Lives" rally to register local teens ahead of the November midterm elections.

"This movement is the next step in the series of pressure points placed on politicians to take action," the event organizers said in a statement. Referencing another nationwide walkout last month, they added, "We walked out, then we marched, and now we vote."

Speaking at a rally outside Plantation High School in Florida, junior Romy Giler reminded her peers that the movement's demands for legislative action are also motivated by mass shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida; and a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada—the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

"We can't just stop at schools," she said. "Concerts, night clubs, and movie theaters are, sadly, places we have to consider as well—places we regularly go to with our friends to have fun."

Acknowledging the walkouts, marches, and town halls that have swept the nation since February, Giley concluded, "We have changed opinions on gun control but there is nothing stopping these senseless acts of violence until legislators do something."

Another district in Florida canceled its planned walkouts after a 17-year-old male student was shot at Forest High School in Ocala. Police said Friday that the victim sustained nonlife-threatening injuries and the 19-year-old suspect—who is not a student—was taken into custody.

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