April 20 (UPI) — School walkouts scheduled across the United States Friday are renewing demands for greater gun control, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School attack.
Nearly 3,000 schools are planning to participate in the walkouts, which were set for 10 a.m. Friday in each time zone.
Students will leave their classrooms and observe a moment of silence for victims — including the 17 shot dead in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
“Mass shootings happen far too frequently in America, and we as a nation have become numb to seeing the news,” the National School Walkout said on its website. “After each one, the same cycle takes place: the media spend less than a week on the story, politicians offer their ‘thoughts and prayers,’ and nothing ever changes.”
The latest walkouts were organized by Lane Murdock, a 16-year-old student from Ridgefield, Conn., who was disturbed by the lack of her own reaction to the Parkland attack on Feb. 14.
“When I found out about the shooting at MSD, I remember I didn’t have a huge reaction,” she said. “And because of that, I knew I needed to change myself, and we needed to change this country.”
The National School Walkout follows last month’s March for Our Lives protests, in which students pushed for an end to gun violence in cities around the world. More than 800,000 marched in Washington, D.C., alone.
Thursday night, high school students and supporters rallied in Colorado’s Clement Park near Columbine High School — the site of the April 20, 1999, shooting attack that killed 12 students and a teacher — to urge students to change U.S. leadership by registering to vote.
The “Vote for Our Lives” rally drew about 500 people.
“A politician fears only one thing. That is your vote,” Parkland survivor Carlitos Rodriguez, 17, said.
Following the Parkland shooting, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a gun bill to raise the minimum purchasing age in the state to 21 — and ban the sale or possession of “bump stocks,” while adding $69 million in funding for mental health services in schools.
Actors Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore have written “Excuse Me” letters for students wanting to participate in the walkouts — allowing them to write in their names to get out of class.
“I know we share the same interest for our children — a safe nurturing environment for their education and growth,” De Niro wrote. “I have four children and four grandchildren in school now. I would never make a frivolous request for them to miss class.”