Across U.S., Students Walk Out of Class to Demand Gun Control Legislation

Updated Thursday, April 6, 2023.

Tens of thousands of students across the U.S. joined in a collective action on Wednesday, April 5, at noon local time, and walked out of their classes en masse to demand gun control legislation.

The student participants spanned geographical location—from Oregon, to Texas, to Massachusetts—and age, ranging from elementary school to high school and beyond. Some demonstrations were frantic and loud, with urgent chants directed at lawmakers and gun manufacturers: “Our blood, your hands.” “Books, not bullets.” “Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?” Others were silent and somber.

Scroll through some of the demonstrations below.

Boulder, Colo.

Portland, Ore.

Framington, Mass.

Melrose, Mass.

Uvalde, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Lakewood, Ohio

New York City

Memphis, Tenn.

Seattle, Wash.

Greensboro, N.C.

Durham, N.C.

Originally published Tuesday, April 4, at 10:00 a.m. PT:

Planning the Walkout

Protesters gather inside the Tennessee State Capitol to call for an end to gun violence and support stronger gun laws on March 30, 2023, in Nashville. A 28-year-old former student of the private Covenant School in Nashville, wielding a handgun and two AR-style weapons, shot and killed three 9-year-old students and three adults before being killed by responding police officers on March 27. (Seth Herald / Getty Images)

Students Demand Action invites students from campuses across the U.S. to stage walkouts to protest gun violence on Wednesday, April 5, at noon local time.

The Wednesday activation follows a devastating shooting on Monday, March 27, at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn., by a 28-year-old former student, who killed three elementary school students and three staff members: Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60. Mike Hill, 61, and Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all age 9.

A toolkit from the group lays out how-to steps for students looking to get involved:

  1. Talk to teachers or school leaders about your plans and what they mean to you.
  2. Recruit other students to join you. Contact student unions and other groups with followings.
  3. Then, on Wednesday at noon: “Stop whatever you’re doing and simply walk out.”

Stop whatever you’re doing and simply walk out — into the hallway, out of your school building, whatever feels right to you.

You can circle your school holding hands

You can stage your walkout in your school’s hallway

You can hold a lie-in on school grounds

Get creative—or any other action that makes sense for you and your community. ….

Text FED UP to 644-33 to take action.

The planned walkout follows days of student-led protests in Tennessee—the most recent of which was Monday, April 3, when thousands of Nashville students marched to the Capitol. The day marked one week since the Covenant School shooting. The protest was organized by gun control advocacy group March For Our Lives, which formed in the wake of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17.

“We all want to live through high school,” said 17-year-old Amy Goetzinger at Monday’s rally, “and that’s why we’re here today.”

How many more kids have to die in our schools before our lawmakers act? How many more people need to die while grocery shopping? While walking on our city streets? 

Students Demand Action

Students Demand Action links recent record-breaking attacks on LGBTQ youth with the need for gun control legislation. “We know that transgender and gender non-conforming people are far more likely to be victims of gun violence than perpetrators,” the group writes in their Walkout Activation Toolkit. “We deserve to learn and live without fear, but thanks to our weak gun laws and the gun lobby’s relentless ‘guns everywhere’ agenda, nowhere is safe.”

“It’s not drag queens, it’s not books, it’s not Black history, it’s not trans rights — GUNS are KILLING KIDS,” said a tweet from March For Our Lives, announcing Monday’s walkout.

Gun Control Legislation

President Joe Biden signed into law last summer a bipartisan bill on gun safety—the first national legislation on gun control in two decades. The law provides $750 million for state-level crisis intervention programs and closes the “boyfriend loophole,” while still allowing those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes to restore their gun rights after five years if they haven’t committed other crimes.

The law also does not include a ban on assault weapons—the weapons responsible for over 85 percent of mass shooting fatalities, including the school shootings at: the Covenant School; Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, last year, which killed 21 people, 19 of whom were students; and Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, in Newtown, Conn., which killed 26 people, including 20 children. A Pew Research poll from 2021 shows high support from Democrats (80 percent) for a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, while 40 percent of Republicans support these measures. Mass shootings dropped by 37 percent when the U.S. 1994 assault weapons ban went into effect, then spiked 183 percent when the ban expired in 2004.

“When lawmakers refuse to act, kids die looking down the barrel of a gun,” March For Our Lives said in a statement. “Young people will fight until we win.”

Up next:

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Roxanne Szal (or Roxy) is the managing digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast On the Issues With Michele Goodwin. She is also a mentor editor for The OpEd Project. Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.