Stop School Shootings Now

On Thursday, February 15th, the day after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 teachers and students, I was sitting in my home watching the videos of gunshots going off in the classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Hearing kids screaming.. Watching SWAT teams storming into classrooms …and I was seething. It had happened AGAIN. ANOTHER school shooting. So many dead.

 

Our politicians and our President appeared on TV saying the same old tired statements of “thoughts and prayers” and “mental illness”’ must be addressed. NO mention of guns.

 

I was fed up. I was angry. I needed to ACT.

 

I decided to start a private Facebook group and planned to stage a walkout from the schools in my city to protest the killing of our children. I planned to make a plea for change in our country’s gun laws. I knew my superintendent, my school board, my child’s principal. I felt like it was something I could accomplish.

 

I scheduled a meeting at my home for 2pm on Friday and invited neighbors in my community to attend. When I went to sleep on Thursday night, I had about 400 people in my facebook group. I was overwhelmed and thought that number was amazing. When I woke up Friday morning, I had 2500 people from all over the country who had joined the group! By the time of our 2pm meeting, we had 10,000 people in our group, and the conference call I’d set up so Moms could join the call from carpool pickup had swelled to hundreds! It was surreal.

 

At our meeting, we talked about our sorrow. Our anger. And that we needed to make a lasting change in our country. THIS time we would make a change. THIS time our voices would be heard. We had reached a tipping point. We named our group: Stop School Shootings NOW and decided our first action would be a National School Walkout.

 

The next day, the amazing kids from Parkland, Florida, held a rally and set the country on fire with their passion and anger. It was jaw-dropping that these kids who had been through so much, were able to step up and be incredibly articulate and focused in their demands that change had to happen NOW. They called on our legislators to act. Ban assault weapons. Increase background checks. Ban high capacity magazines. CHANGE THE GUN CULTURE IN OUR COUNTRY.

 

That day, our movement morphed into a partnership with the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER group, an organization of active kids who are launching a movement against the powerful gun lobby in America.

 

They had begun planning the first-ever #NationalSchoolWalkout for students, teachers and other school staff for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone on March 14, 2018. Stop School Shootings NOW expands that effort to call for EVERY AMERICAN who is against gun violence to join our national walkout. At 10am (local time),  walk out of your home, your workplace, your place of worship, WHEREVER you are and observe 17 minutes in solidarity with other Americans who are fed up with kids dying from school shootings in the US and want major change to gun laws NOW. One minute for every life lost in Parkland, Florida. I envision church bells ringing 17 times each minute across our country. I envision thousands of people standing and marking the minutes and honoring the lives lost to gun violence and saying NEVER AGAIN will this happen in America!

 

At 12pm (in your local timezone) on March 14th, gather at state capitols or state, city or local government buildings to RALLY and demonstrate. It’s important for us to show the numbers in our movement. Let us be counted. Let it be an overwhelming show of force and focus.

 

We are calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a national school walkout to stand in honor of the 17 victims of the Parkland high school shooting and to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. We need action.

 

Stop School Shootings NOW wants to ask every American to join our cause. It’s going to take all of us — under one tent– with one unified voice — to create change in this country. The students are leading this movement, but they need every single one of us to stand WITH them and DEMAND congress hear us.

 

We’ll keep marching and protesting.. Again on March 24th and then on April 20th.. Until we get changes we need in our gun laws. An assault weapon ban. High capacity magazine ban. Extended background checks.

 

We are committed, invested and we’re not going to stop. The time is NOW.

 

Clare Schexnyder

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