Several students who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida have vowed not to return until legislation reforming gun control in the U.S. is passed.
“I’m not going back to school on Wednesday until one bill is passed,” David Hogg, 17, said Sunday at a gun control rally in New Jersey, the New York Daily News reported.
Hogg is among many teen survivors of the Feb. 14 shooting calling for stricter gun laws and the banning of civilian access to military grade weapons.
That includes the AR-15, which alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz is accused of using to kill 17 students and staffers at the school.
“Literally any legislation at this point would be a success,” Hogg said. “Considering the fact that so few legislators in Florida met with us and they want the people to forget, that’s disgusting. The fact that they want people to forget about this and elect them again as the child murderers they are, that’s unacceptable and we’re not going to let that happen.”
Alex Wind, 17, has also said he and the other members of the “Never Again MSD” movement will not go back to class unless something changes.
“This isn’t about politicians; this is about victims,” Wind told The Washington Post. “We will not let those 17 people die in vain... How are we supposed to feel safe again? What if this happens again? What if this happens in any other school? How are we supposed to know and feel safe in those exact hallways where the shooting happened if nothing changes? If these laws caused the shooting in the first place, what’s going to stop [another shooting] if the laws don’t change?”
In their call to action, the Never Again movement has planned the March for Our Lives, a nationwide protest against gun violence that will take place on March 24.
“Not one more,” the March’s mission statement reads. “We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.”
The main march will take place in Washington, D.C., but sister marches are being planned in cities across the country, including New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Florida and Texas.
National school walkouts are also scheduled for March 14 and April 20.
Some schools have pushed back against such demonstrations, threatening disciplinary action against students who protest or participate in any walkouts.
Curtis Rhodes, superintendent of Needville Independent School District outside Houston, has reportedly said that any student who joins a walkout will face a three-day suspension, saying in a letter, “Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative.
"We will discipline no matter if it is 1, 50, or 500 students involved," he added in a since-deleted post on the district’s Facebook page. “All will be suspended for three days and parent notes will not alleviate the discipline."
Many others voiced their support for students who plan to protest, saying it’s their First Amendment right to do so.
“I’m a Texas-barred attorney and will represent these students pro bono should they choose to exercise their rights to free speech,” tweeted Steven Golden, a New York-based lawyer who is also licensed to practice in Texas and Maryland.
Several other people who said they were attorneys replied to Golden saying they too would extend their services to students in need.
“I’m a lawyer, author, & former chairman of a national writers guild,” human rights activist Qasim Rashid wrote on Twitter. “If you’re applying to college and need help positioning why you were suspended for opposing gun violence — email me and I’m happy to help edit your essay no charge.”
Many colleges and universities including Yale University, MIT, Boston University, University of Virginia, Tulane University and Dartmouth College have come out in support of students who choose to demonstrate, saying admissions decisions will not be affected by suspensions incurred for protesting.