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Why I’m protesting on March 14th

Kayla Sweet, Contributing Writer

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Dear Mom and Dad, 

Last week, I told you about the National School Walkout to protest the inaction Congress is taking on gun violence after the attack in Parkland, FL. When I first brought up the protest, you were quick to ask, “Am I getting a refund for the education I’m paying for, that you aren’t getting?” What is funny is that I never said I was participating in this protest. However, I am writing this article to say yes, I will be walking out of class promptly at 10 AM on March 14th, and I will stay outside for seventeen minutes. The short protest is seventeen minutes to honor the students murdered in Parkland, FL. 

There have been well over a dozen shootings this year alone. Personally, I am tired of hearing about school shootings, and shootings in general. I have grown up around hunters, gun enthusiasts, and I even own my own gun. Shooting our handguns at pop bottles and other targets is a fun activity at every major holiday with our extended family. I love when my 18 year old brother asks me if I want to go to the shooting range because that is a time we can be together. Overall, guns do not scare me.  

The game changer is when a barrel is pointed at you. The idea of a gun pointed at me has haunted my dreams for a majority of my life. It should not be common to hear about another shooting every other day. Earlier, you told me it is not about changing the law, but enforcing laws and being a strong voter for those in power. Unfortunately, kids do not have power. Maybe that is why there are so many shootings.  Children cannot vote, so how can they make a difference? 

Protests. Protests really make a difference. 

Recently, I watched an interview with a girl named Delaney Tarr, a student, and now activist, from Parkland. During the interview, she made a good point. “We don’t have jobs to protect. We don’t have anything that we need to conserve right now.” They have nothing to lose. These students are fighting to change the legal age of buying automatic rifles to 21. It’s not about going against the 2nd Amendment and taking away all guns. I would not be in support of this protest if it was about terminating all guns. I am protesting because of my own experiences.  

During my senior year of high school, around 10:30 AM, the principal came on the intercom and announced we were in lock down. No context, nothing. I was overcome with chills and immediately entered into a panic attack. For over an intense hour, my classmates, teachers, and I waited. The teachers were not notified and had no previous knowledge of a lock down drill. We all thought there was a gunman in the building.  

A picture of a crazed man holding a gun entering the classroom was on repeat in my head. My heart was beating so fast that my vision was blurred. My palms were sweating, but I felt frozen. One wall in our class was covered with a long window overlooking an outside square, and parallel to our room was the lunchroom. The lunchroom wall also had a wall of windows. My peers were overlooking the window, trying to see a possible intruder walking through the lunchroom. I personally thought that idea was idiotic; we should all be hiding.  

The teacher had fear in her eyes.  

With a distressed tone in her voice she said, “If the intruder breaks into this room, take the knives from your kitchen stations. We will overpower him together.” The idea was brilliant, but I was not prepared, like anyone in the same situation, to run at a gunman with a knife. Thankfully, there was no intruder. Instead, it was a fake bomb threat made by one of the students. The rest of the day was spent at a different location, while security did a thorough search of the high school. Even though the lock down was because of a false alarm, the petrified feelings were still there.  

No child should be afraid of going to school. School is a place to learn, grow, and explore. The problems with school shootings is horrific, and nothing is slowing them down. There are other options to prevent more shootings, but the process to get them implemented might take several months before becoming established. Other countries banned their firearms all together. What is wrong with just banning assault rifles in the United States of America? This epidemic that our country has been facing should have been resolved a long time ago. Now kids are taking a stand, and they have a right to do so. Mom and Dad, you are kind people, and you don’t want anyone to get hurt. You raised me to understand that guns are used with the highest of safety measures, and that they are to be locked up when not in use. As a family, we believe in using guns as a way to hunt, and that guns should never be lowered at any person. Even though you are against the walkout, I will be walking with fellow students, faculty, and staff across the country.

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