On the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, students in Florida’s capital joined their counterparts across the nation in a school walkout calling for gun reform. Students also congregated in the Capitol courtyard after the school day.
Even after Florida’s lawmakers made some steps toward gun law reform in the state during the legislative session, the wave of student activism set off by February’s school shooting in Parkland isn’t letting up. But will it bring further results? Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, one of four democratic candidates vying for the gubernatorial nod, told students at the capitol he believes it will.
“If we let people know that we’re not going away, if we let people know that this is not a moment, but a movement. Right? And a movement requires that we be here, no matter how many of us, but that we be here,” Gillum said.
Gillum spoke to the crowd at a rally held by high school students dubbed “Walk Up and Speak Out.” The rally followed a school walkout at 10 a.m. At Rickards High School, just minutes away from the Capitol, hundreds of students participated. Rickards High senior Sarah Halbert helped organize the school’s walkout.
“Any school could be next, and we don’t know what it could be, what factors play into it, anything like that. And so, it’s extremely important that we start some sort of change,” Halbert said. “Because putting protection factors into place isn’t going to help as much as changing the gun laws.”
The Rickards walkout became a who’s who of local politics. Candidates in the local mayoral, city and county commission races showed up at the school to speak. Dustin Daniels, running to be Tallahassee’s mayor, told Rickards students their activism echoes that of prior generations that influenced U.S. history.
“If we look at the women’s suffrage movement, if we look at the civil rights movement, if we look at the Vietnam War — it was young people, stepping up in the face of injustice, to improve our country,” Daniels said.
Yet, according to the students’ hometown newspaper, the numbers aren’t adding up. A report in the Tallahassee Democrat earlier this week says there are actually fewer voters between 18 and 25 years old now than prior to the Stoneman Douglas High school shooting.
In contrast to activism happening in the Capitol and elsewhere, news broke before noon of a school shooting in Marion County. Local law enforcement reported one injured. The suspect has been arrested.