Glen Rock students weigh in on the national gun-control walkouts


Lorie Shaull via Wikimedia Commons

by Chloe Siohan

Students across the nation have been walking out of schools in protest for stricter gun laws, with two nationwide walkouts scheduled in March and April. As these dates loom, the question remains: will you walk out for gun-control?

After the mass shooting almost a month ago at Marjory HS in Parkland, FL., demonstrators, particularly teenagers, have been pushing for stricter gun laws in hopes of preventing another potential mass shooting in America. The main way teens have been protesting is through school walkouts, and two have been scheduled nationwide for March 14, and April 20.

Sophomore Robby King said, “I am absolutely not walking out for gun control… I understand this is a nationwide problem, but New Jersey has the second most strict laws surrounding the topic on gun control.”

And as these walkouts creep closer, students are struggling to figure out whether they are going to walk out, if any of their peers are going to walk out, and what the consequences will be if they do walk out.

“Individuals need to realize that guns are not the problem, it is the individuals who fire them,” King said, who also does not support students who walk out.

However, King does believe that there should be gun reform. “No individual should have a semi-automatic gun,” he said. “Everyone should be allowed to have a pistol or a hunting rifle with proper licensing.”

And while he doesn’t support students who choose to walk out, he doesn’t care if they do. King warns that there may be consequences from administration for doing so.

“They [students] should at least understand that will most likely be consequences and not complain once those consequences are put into effect,” he said. “I do believe there should be action taken by the administration, but it is their decision for what consequence they want to put into effect.”

In a recently updated letter, Superintendent Bruce Watson expressed the final boundaries regarding the walkout.

“I, along with Board members, have received emails from Glen Rock parents in support of our students’ right to demonstrate with no discipline charges assigned. This would be respected for this event,” Watson said. Although if any student strays from the rules set by the administration regarding the walkout, disciplinary action will occur.

Additionally, Watson stated that elementary and middle school students will not participate in the walkout, stating that, “Participation in such an event may increase the sense of fear and anxiety among our younger students and would create additional safety concerns in ensuring sufficient supervision.”

Two students who manage the @grhswalkout account on Instagram, who are promoting a walkout, have been working with administration to determine whether there will be disciplinary action or not for students who decide to walkout.

“There will not be punishment for kids who walk out. We are working with administration and they are not going to take any disciplinary action to those who decide to participate,” they said, in accordance to Watson’s statement.

The pair, who attend Glen Rock High School, and wanted to remain anonymous, both decided to take action the weekend after the shooting. They did not start working together until a little later. They said, “Once we started working together, it started to move along.”

Mainly, though, their main motivation for organizing the walkout is because they don’t want students to feel unsafe in school. “Glen Rock is supposed to be a safe town, and the fact that some of us are scared that we’ll be killed in the place we’re supposed to be safe is horrifying,” the pair said. “We aren’t trying to change gun laws, and we don’t want to come up with legislative proposals– we just want to feel safe in our school.”

They also believe unless everyone participates, nothing will change– that’s why they want Glen Rock High School to participate. “We want to make sure we’re part of the change that will inevitably be made if we all stand united against gun violence,” they said.

Lastly, they want people to know that this issue isn’t partisan– it’s an issue of public safety.

“Some of us want better mental health services, some want gun control laws, and some want better school security,” they said. “We just have to keep pushing for change, and soon it will come.”