Why we walked out

Mira Loma High students are calling attention to school shootings—and politicians should be afraid

Audrey Booth is a senior at Mira Loma High School in Sacramento.

On March 14, I joined a couple hundred of my fellow Mira Loma High School classmates and left school during third period.

If you haven’t heard, it was National School Walkout Day. At 10:30 a.m. last Wednesday, we exited our classrooms for 17 minutes, in recognition of the 17 lives lost at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month.

Students held signs and chanted, “Enough is enough!” Papers with information about calling our representatives were passed out. Some of the students who organized the walkout gave a short speech. The students were very attentive and cheered at what was said. When the speech was done, and we had read the names of the 17 victims from the Parkland shooting, there was a 5-minute silence in their honor. It was so quiet that you could hear the birds chirping and the heels of a teacher in a nearby hallway.

Many people asked us why we participated. The answer is simple: We want our schools to be safe.

We live in a world where students have a genuine fear of a school shooting happening on their campuses. A few weeks ago, the power went out at our school during sixth period. It only lasted a few seconds, but a student was afraid it was the beginning of a shooting.

This is the reality of the world we live in, and it needs to change. We need our legislators to protect students by passing laws to restrict gun sales and permits. We are not asking for guns to be banned—we are simply asking that guns be less accessible to those who are not mature or mentally stable enough to handle them safely, and that our representatives pass measures to reduce gun violence.

I, along with so many other high school students, will be voting this November, and the rest in the few years that follow. When we vote, we will vote for those who not only promise to keep our schools safe, but deliver on those promises. If our representatives want to get reelected, they need to make effective gun laws to protect us.

We are also asking our schools to work with local law enforcement to teach students what to do in the event of an active-shooter situation on campus. Students should know how to respond, how to run (zig-zag motion), and where to run to. We practice lockdowns at school, but that is not going to protect us if someone opens fire in a place where we can’t hide. We need our schools to show us what to do and what not to do if something like this happens.

We never again want to hear that people are dying in a place where they are supposed to be safe, especially children. No one should be afraid that a child or teacher is going to be killed by something completely preventable. We all need to come together now and demand that gun laws change. Our democracy works when we make our voices heard. So we are speaking up.