More than 100 Hermiston High School students walked out of their classes this morning and gathered at the center of Kennison Field to protest gun violence in schools.
Chanting “Protect our children, not our guns” and “policy change,” the students stayed on the field for 17 minutes – one minute for each of the people killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., exactly one month ago.
The Hermiston students were part of a nationwide walkout designed to pressure Congress into passing laws to protect students in school. According to BallotPedia, there have been 187 incidents of gun violence in American schools since 1990.
And while the number of students who did not take part in the walkout vastly outnumbered those who did participate, those who did walk out were pleased by the turnout.
“I’m surprised there’s this many here,” said HHS sophomore Zach Duncan. “I thought there might be just a group of 20, but there’s quite a few.”
Duncan said he took part in today’s walkout because he thinks the country’s gun laws don’t make any sense.
“I’m calling B.S. on the fact that you can get an assault rifle at 18, but you can’t get a handgun until you’re 21,” Duncan said. “Now, which is more deadly? An assault rifle or a pistol?”
Kaitlyn Curtis, a freshman at HHS, said she is not opposed to the Second Amendment that guarantees the right to own a gun, but there should be more done to protect the public from gun violence.
“I’m not saying we should take people’s guns away, but there should definitely be limits on what guns you can buy,” Curtis said.
Duncan took issue with a number of comments by adults on social media blaming teachers for provoking the students to walkout by their “radical agenda.”
“Go away – we do not care,” he said. “We are doing what we believe.”
At exactly 10:17 a.m., the walkout ended and the students returned to class.