Nashville high school students marched and chanted Friday against school shootings and in favor of five specific gun control measures as part of a nationwide day of walkouts.
With police escort, students from downtown’s Hume-Fogg and MLK Magnet went on foot to Nashville’s city hall. They strained their voices at top volume to decry mass shootings and, at times, to direct their anger against the National Rifle Association and any lawmakers who take the organization’s political contributions.
Student demands — more measured and specific — continued from a makeshift stage on the steps of city hall. They are:
- background checks on every gun sale
- waiting periods on gun purchases
- a ban on bump stocks
- a safe storage law for gun-owners
- the removal of firearms from domestic abusers
“These are our demands. We believe they are reasonable, and we expect to see steps taken to carry them out,” said MLK student organizer Olivia Connor.
The students are also setting a deadline for legislative action: April 20, 2019, which will be the 20-year anniversary of the generation-defining Columbine shooting in Colorado.
“We cannot let two decades go by since Columbine without some significant legislative actions,” Connor told the crowd. “Everybody here might be here for different reasons. Some might have more conservative or more radical views on this, but we think these are things that everybody can agree on.”
The students were also scheduled to meet with some state lawmakers late Friday to discuss the platform.
In rallying, the students didn’t shy from their youth. Connor went so far as to compare the rivalry between Hume-Fogg and MLK to the partisan divide in the legislature.
“We really want our lawmakers … to work to come up with bipartisan solutions,” she said. “And I would like any of them who refuse to do that to look at the high schoolers — the teenagers here today — who are more mature than them.”
The rally included a recitation of the names of Columbine victims and brief speeches from some Democratic state lawmakers, and Nashville Mayor David Briley, who said the city has a tradition — dating back to the Civil Rights Movement — of young people pushing politicians to make change.
“If you guys will stick with us, if you guys will keep fighting, Nashville will be safer every day going forward,” Briley said.