Hundreds of Florida students walk out of school to protest gun laws

By Danielle Haynes  |  Feb. 20, 2018 at 4:56 PM
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Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Hundreds of students from a South Florida high school spontaneously left campus and walked more than 10 miles Tuesday to the site of last week's mass shooting to protest U.S. gun laws.

An estimated 1,000 West Boca High students ran past school officials and security guards during a moment of silence for the 17 students and teachers killed Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Sophomore Lauren Smith told The Miami Herald the unplanned demonstration started after some students began standing on tables and chanting. Principal Craig Sommer tried to stop the students from leaving, but ultimately began accompanying the students on their 10-12 mile trek from Boca Raton, Fla., to nearby Parkland.

Some of the students said they walked out because they don't feel safe at school, others said they wanted to show solidarity with student activists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas who began organizing trips to the state capital and a march on Washington in the wake of last week's shooting.

"Most of us got zeros on quizzes today," Smith said. "I don't think we should have to do that to make a change, but we do. And it's important that we do."

Some students walked or ran the entire distance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, while others hitched rides. They gathered in a courtyard changing "we want change, we want change," the Palm Beach Post reported.

The West Boca High students started their march as students at Boca Raton High School and Park Vista High School held assemblies honoring the victims.

Meanwhile, activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School boarded buses Tuesday en route to Tallahassee where they lobbied lawmakers to enact stricter gun control laws.

As they looked on, though, the Florida House voted 71-36 against an attempt to debate and vote on a bill that would prevent the sale and possession of assault weapons. They legislation was introduced in October but had yet to be reviewed in committee.

State Rep. Kionne McGhee, a Democrat, attempted to move the bill directly to the House floor without committee review.

Though state-level efforts didn't succeed Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered the Department of Justice to propose a rule banning the sale of bump stocks and other devices that allow the rapid fire of firearms. The shooter that left 58 people dead at a country music festival in Las Vegas used such a device.

Meanwhile, a California law requiring a 10-day cooling off period before someone can buy a firearm was left in place after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the law's constitutionality.

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