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Thousands of people support students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in a rally for gun control at the Florida capitol (2/21/18).The Florida legislature is poised to pass some of the most sweeping gun control and mental health reforms in more than 20 years. The moves come as lawmakers face pressure from students affected by the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.On Valentine's Day, a 19-year-old in Parkland opened fire on his former classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He killed 14 students, three adults, and injured 14 others. There were warning signs, yet, all, including a tip to the FBI, were missed.That day, school safety measures in place, like school resource officers, restricted access and fencing--all failed.In the wake of the shooting, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have mobilized, calling on the legislature to take greater action to prevent school and mass shootings. Lawmakers, it seems, are finally listening.https://youtu.be/6PRPEfu7WPg

Leon County Students Won't Be Penalized For Participating In Nationwide Walkout

Leon County Schools logo
Leon County Schools

Students across the nation are preparing for school walkouts to decry gun violence on the anniversary of the Columbine shooting 20 years ago. Leon County Schools is supporting its students’ right to protest.

During the first nationwide school walkout in March, Leon County students who would have wanted to participate were on spring break. Now, they’ll be getting another shot at it. Chris Petley, spokesman for the district, says it is permitting its students to participate in the 10 a.m. walkout, which will last about 20 minutes.

“A handful of our schools, students have expressed interest in the national walkout. Our administrators are working with those students to ensure that they do not cause a disruption during the day,” Petley said. “They will not be punished, as long as there is not a disruption to the normal class day.”

Then at 2:30 p.m., students from high schools all over Leon County will gather at the Capitol courtyard for a rally they’ve dubbed “Walk Up and Speak Out.”

“We’ve heard that there are some folks at the Leon High school student government association that I believe are part of the group that spearheaded a meeting for after school. I believe their line was they didn’t want to have to choose education over protesting. That’s obviously their right, and they’re going to do it after school at the Capitol,” Petley said.

The rally’s organizers say its purpose is to send a message to legislators that advocates for gun legislation “aren’t going anywhere.” In a news release, organizers say the rally will feature speakers who have survived gun violence.

It’s the third rally calling for more stringent gun laws since the Valentine’s Day shooting at a South Florida high school when 17 people were killed, triggering a wave of student activism.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.