University of Redlands students organized a peaceful demonstration on March 14 as part of the #NationalWalkOut and #MarchForOurLives movement across the country to raise awareness about the impact of gun violence on our society.
As student organizer Megan Wilensky ’20 pointed out in her remarks to the crowd, the demonstration took place exactly one month after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Javier Garcia ’20 led a solemn moment of silence and he read the names of all 17 victims of the Parkland shooting.
The Bulldog Blog asked some of those participating in the event why they felt the walkout was important.
“For a long time, mass shootings have been a problem in the United States. This situation affects students, as shootings occur on elementary, high school, and college campuses. We as students should be trying to get Congress and companies and adults to stand with us and fight for stricter gun control to solve this problem.”
—Megan Wilensky ’20
“There was a recent shooting in Los Angeles as well. It is time for change. It has been too long. There have been too many shootings. We said, ‘We have to do this here, on this campus, because our voices need to be heard to show our support and fight for change.’”
—Javier Garcia ’20
“You need to make your presence known and let people know how you’re feeling. What is going on in our schools is absolutely unacceptable. We shouldn’t have this many school shootings every year and not be fazed by it.”
—Halie West ’18
“The walkout is important because it shows that all of us are coming together about something that’s facing our society and that we’re willing to be counted and take a stand. It’s extremely important for us all to be here.”
—Kendrick Brown, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
“Shootings have happened too many times.”
—Leigh Kilgus ’20
“Three of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have come in the last five months. We have mourned the lives lost, and we have expressed empathy. But as the violence accelerates, that simply cannot be enough. The sheer frequency and scale of murders indicates an American epidemic. We are in no less than a public health crisis.”
—Kathy Ogren, U of R provost, as part of a statement from President Ralph Kuncl read at the event
“I feel very powerless as a student. It seems like we are not the ones lawmakers are listening to, and we are the biggest group of people suffering for it.”
—Liana Rudin ’18
“It’s important because we’re stepping away from complacency and showing that we have a stance. But … I want something to happen; I’m just not sure what it is or how to get it. I want to know what steps we can take to politically make a difference. I want to know whether we should’ve marched to our local government or made a petition—something bigger.”
—Sean Dunnington ’19
“Democracies require citizen participation, and it is through careful study and deliberation coupled with civic action that citizens can shape their world for the better. This is an important moment for us as a country, and I think teachers and students should be a part of it.”
—Brian Charest, professor, School of Education
In advance of the demonstration, a student display hung in Hunsaker Plaza, providing statistics on gun violence in America, including:
- In 2016, 73 percent of murders were committed with firearms
- Seven children and teens are killed with guns in the U.S. on an average day
- Background checks have blocked over 3 million gun sales to prohibited people
- Studies show that gun control works; after a mass shooting in 1996 in Australia, more strict gun control was established, reducing firearm homicide rates by 42 percent and firearm suicide rates by 57 percent (Harvard research summary)
- After controlling for variables such as socioeconomic factors and crime, places with more guns have more gun deaths, according to research compiled by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center
- More than 36,000 Americans were victims of firearm-related deaths in 2015
- Gun-related deaths are the third leading cause of death in American children
- The U.S. has six times the gun homicide rate of Canada, seven times Sweden, and 16 times Germany
After the walkout, Garcia says next on his agenda is the March for Our Lives event on Saturday, March 24.