McLean students hold walkout to protest school shootings

Students demand stricter gun control following recent shootings

On May 26 at 12:50 pm, nearly 200 McLean High School students gathered near the front entrance of the school in a walkout to protest the rising number of school shootings that have occurred in the United States in the past few years, specifically the recent shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

“This walkout is a form of civil protest for the students at McLean to show that we are done with the legislatures at the federal, state and local level for ignoring our repeated cries for firearm regulation,” sophomore class representative Bennett Brunner said.

With help from sophomores Ava Liberatore and Michael Norton, Brunner organized the walkout and spread the word through social media. Students made posters and chanted in the front parking lot of McLean high school.

“The three of us wrote a speech to be delivered at the walkout, and we asked for students to get the word out by reposting the event details on their Instagram stories,” Norton said.

The walkout was in protest of the nation’s current policies concerning the purchasing and handling of guns in America. To contribute to the national effort for stricter gun regulations, more extensive background checks, and improved access to mental health resources, Brunner aimed to amplify the voices of the students at McLean by attracting as much attention as possible.

“[We] have been contacting the local press, such as The Washington Post, and creating posters and signs,” Brunner said. “The purpose is to increase the publicity of this initiative and hopefully get some attention from our political leaders.”

Brunner also urged students to contact local representatives. He encouraged them to share their opinions and voice their concerns.

“The March For Our Lives movement has called on political representatives to pass stricter gun laws since the Parkland shooting,” Brunner said, “It is important that we help the movement along by contacting our local leaders and expressing the urgency of our concerns.”

Hundreds of students filled a large section of the parking lot and gathered in front of Brunner, Norton and Liberatore, who addressed the crowd and news cameras from NBC4 Washington.

“We want to have our voices heard as the student body of America,” Brunner said. “This protest is a call for action and to gather media attention, to show that as the midterms roll around, we’re not accepting any lack of policy changes that won’t end this epidemic of gun violence in America.”

The walkout began with Brunner leading the chant “How Many More?”. His voice projecting through the megaphone, other students joined in while the cameras panned over the crowd.

“We wanted to include a moment of silence for the 21 innocent lives lost in Uvalde on Tuesday,” Liberatore said. “Unfortunately, they are part of a much larger group of people whose lives were taken because of the insufficient laws in place to protect children from gun violence.”

After the three sophomores delivered their speeches, which included reading the names of every known victim of the Uvalde shooting, Brunner took the megaphone back and shouted to the student body, engaging them in a powerful “Are We Next?” chant to close the walkout.

Students at McLean were enthusiastic about doing their part to make their voices heard, demand change and contribute to the ongoing effort to pass stricter gun laws and prevent future tragedies.

“As a student attending school in America, every morning when you wake up, you go to school with the understanding that you are at risk of not coming home,” Norton said. “The number of school shootings that have occurred in just the past few years is unacceptable. As students, we deserve better.”