Four Maryland high school students were arrested by Capitol Police on Friday afternoon for peacefully protesting outside House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) office in Washington, D.C., demanding that the lawmaker work to pass stricter gun control legislation that has the support of most Americans.
"We should not live in a country where we have to go to school in fear of the possibility of looking down the barrel of a rifle," Daniel Gelillo, a member of Montgomery County Students for Gun Control, which staged the protest, told the Huffington Post.
The demonstration came hours after 10 people were gunned down at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. The U.S. Capitol Police confirmed that four of the students were detained and face charges for "crowding, obstructing, or incommoding."
Wearing signs that read "Allow the Vote," the students arrived at the Longworth House Office Building at around 4:30pm on Friday and assembled on the floor outside Ryan's office. The demonstration was live-streamed on Periscope.
High school kids in silent protest outside US House @SpeakerRyan's office were arrested today:— Rae Hodge (@RaeHodge) May 18, 2018
cc: #gunreform #guncontrol #SantaFeShooting #NeverAgain #enoughisenough #notonemore pic.twitter.com/og65tIFWIu
Ryan has refused to allow the House to consider new restrictions on gun purchases and ownership in the wake of the Parkland shooting, prompting condemnation from Democrats and gun control advocates.
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As Capitol Police arrived in the hall and told the students they would be arrested unless they left, one protester replied, "We don't mind getting arrested."
"One arrest, four arrests, a thousand arrests isn't going to stop us until no more children are dying in their schools because of unnecessary guns in the hands of wrong people," said one student as the police detained four members of the group who had refused to disperse.
Survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., which spurred the #NeverAgain movement, two nationwide student walkouts, and the massive March for Our Lives, applauded the protesters.
The demonstration came as more information was being released about the some of the 10 victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting.
Two substitute teachers, Cynthia Tisdale and Ann Perkins, were among those killed, as well as a Pakistani exchange student named Sabika Sheikh. Sheikh was attending the school through the State Department's Youth Exchange and Study Program and was scheduled to return home next month.
With less than a month until going home to her friends and family, Sabika Sheikh, a YES exchange student from Pakistan, was killed in the #SantaFeHighSchool shooting. If this had happened to me when I was on YES in Jordan it would be "terrorism"-why is it different when it's here pic.twitter.com/CeozGAVSRN— Ariel Russell (@russ_ari) May 18, 2018