Students plan march to Paul Ryan's hometown to spur gun reform

By Sara Shayanian
Students plan march to Paul Ryan's hometown to spur gun reform
A sign is seen at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during a rally for solidarity in Parkland, Fla., on Saturday. Wisconsin students announced plans Monday to march later this month to House Speaker Paul Ryan's hometown of Janesville to advocate gun reform. Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

March 12 (UPI) -- Students in Wisconsin on Monday announced plans to make a four-day, 50-mile march to House Speaker Paul Ryan's hometown later this month to urge gun reform.

The March 24 event, called "50 Miles More," called for students to "stand in solidarity" with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 14 students and three educators were shot dead Feb. 14.


"We know how easy it is for the media and politicians to move on from a tragedy created by gun violence. We have grown up experiencing school shootings followed by this inaction, and we refuse to let it happen this time," Katie Eder, a leader of the march and senior at Wisconsin's Shorewood High School, said in a statement.

The event is the same day as the national March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C. Eder said they will carry the call for improved gun control "directly to Paul Ryan's front door" in Janesville, Wis.


"We want to make sure that when the March For Our Lives events end on the 24th, people don't stop talking and thinking about the need for gun reform."

Taking inspiration from the 54-mile Selma-to-Montgomery, Ala., march for civil rights in 1965, participants of five Wisconsin March for Our Lives events -- in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, West Dallas and Appleton -- will meet for the trek to Ryan's hometown.

The students will walk an average of 13 miles a day and will sleep in high schools along the route, organizers said.

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"It is our time as the next generation to recognize the power we have and join our voices together to demand real and visible change," 50 Miles More co-leader Brendan Fardella said.

"We are going to keep the heat on the people who have been elected to serve us, starting with Paul Ryan, who actually has the power to make legislative change. And if Paul Ryan and other politicians refuse, the youth of America will demand change at the ballot box this November and beyond."

Ryan has spoken out against banning guns and other proposed restrictions.

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On Friday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a $400 million school security and gun control bill in a direct response to the South Florida high school attack.


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U.S. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, tweeted Monday that background check strengthening would be "fully backed" by the White House. A day earlier, a White House official outlined provisions that Trump supports.

"Legislation moving forward. Bump Stocks will soon be out," Trump tweeted. "Highly trained expert teachers will be allowed to conceal carry, subject to State Law."

The president added there was "not much political support" for the reforms, despite "things moving rapidly.

A national walkout to protest gun violence is scheduled for Wednesday, the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting.

In that event, the Women's March Action Network is calling on U.S. students to walk out "for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. across every time zone" to protest "Congress' inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods."

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