Effectiveness of the School Walkout

Finding alternative ways to make students' voices heard

Since the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students across the country have searched for ways to make legislators listen to their pleas for gun reform.

On Wednesday, March 14, Kettle Run students participated in a nationwide school walkout to honor the memory of the 17 victims of the MSDHS shooting and call for gun reform. Participants got out of their seats and exited the building at 10 a.m. to have a meeting full of positive energy.

Participants made tributes to the 17 victims of the MSDHS shooting as well as short speeches during which they called for increased security in schools and the reformation of gun laws. The general concept of a school walkout is positive. It’s great to see members of school communities come together in attempt to make their voices heard. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Except for the people who participate simply because they don’t want to be in class.

Those students, who didn’t take the walkout seriously, tainted the reputation that the walkout had in the first place. When participants aren’t walking out for the right reasons, the event’s standing is undermined, thus diminishing the level of respect it receives as a whole.

Also, what effect does one small, local walkout have on the national gun reform and school safety movement as a whole?

There’s only so much one group of fired-up students can do if they’re not actively speaking at public events rather than at private events at their schools. While walking out of class may inspire students and or staff to get more involved in local governmental proceedings, it can’t do much in terms of producing tangible results. Instead, to really make a difference, people should focus their time and energy on letting their state representatives in the House and Senate know that they’re upset and not willing to back down on the issues at hand.

Specifically for students in Fauquier County, trekking to Capitol Hill is another great option to make politicians aware of their opinions, as it only takes around one hour of travel time to get there. It takes a long time to pass legislation in Congress, but that doesn’t mean citizens can’t lobby to encourage legislators to expedite the process. It’s vital that Congress hears the voices of students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and anyone who cares about gun reform if people truly want to change the laws surrounding access to guns.

So go out and make your voice heard at an event bigger than the one at Kettle Run, because that’s the only way to make a real difference. The walkout may have impacted the lives of students who are passionate about gun reform and making schools safer, but it didn’t necessarily make a huge difference in terms of getting a bill passed in Congress.

In order to have an impact on the political world, one has to brainstorm ideas for solutions to the problems at hand. In this case, that means people need to come up with ways of potentially increasing school safety and decreasing the threat of gun violence in schools.

If you want gun laws to change, then you need to lobby to Congress, state legislators, and to anyone who can actually alter the outcome of action taken by lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Because without the strong voice of the public, nothing may ever change.