Thousands of students stepped out of their classrooms to bring awareness to gun violence Wednesday, March 14, as part of national school walkouts. While the original goal of the walkouts was to honor the 17 people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, many students also used the opportunity to protest gun laws.
After the Parkland shooting, tensions surrounding gun control and the National Rifle Association (NRA) have been high. It’s no surprise that people are scared; kids wonder if their school could be next, parents worry about dropping their children off at school and other public places, and brothers and sisters are scared for their younger siblings. My brothers are still in high school, and sometimes I can’t help but be scared for them. In this time, how could one not be?
This fear, I believe, is one of the main reasons students chose to walk out Wednesday. And while they were doing so, I watched the live streams and constantly projected Snapchat videos in awe. I read articles about students in different countries walking out in solidarity. It is amazing to me that so many students decided to do something. They did something to stand up for themselves and their peers, to let their voice be heard and to attempt to make a change. In the end, the students are the ones most affected, and, therefore, their voices should be the ones that matter most.
However, in the midst of the walkout, the NRA decided to bring some attention to the organization’s stance as well. At 8:31 a.m., the NRA posted a picture on Twitter of an AR-15 with the words, “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.” My first reaction to this was shock. How dare they post a picture of the weapon that was used to kill children on the day that people nationwide were honoring them? Not only was the tweet passive-aggressive and rude, but it was also incredibly unprofessional.
In the midst of controversy and disagreement, all parties are allowed to have and project their own opinions, but as a corporation, the NRA has a responsibility to do so in a way that is respectful and professional. Instead of posting a photo of an AR-15, they could have shared their thoughts in a letter or even a written tweet that was better articulated. To me, the NRA has gone too far with this one. What are they trying to do, pick a fight with a bunch of K-12 students? It seems that they are more worried about being right than being respected. They can’t even step back for one day and respect kids for doing something courageous; you don’t have to agree with someone to show them respect.
Today, I am scared for my brothers. I am scared for the kids who have to go to school in fear, and I am scared for future generations. But I am also proud. These kids are our future, and so far, they are looking stronger and more defiant than ever. It is no wonder that people are scared, but instead of letting fear take over, these students have let fear motivate them to make change. However, while they work to create a small sense of security and hope for themselves and the U.S., the NRA decides to haunt them. Of course, the NRA deserves to have a voice, but they should not have posted a photo of the weapon that was used to perpetrate very fresh wounds. The NRA has picked a fight with kids who are showing no sign of backing down, and in terms of class, I think the kids who walked out are already winning.