On April 20, over 70 Gunn students gathered in front of the school in a walkout to protest policies on gun control. Students stood outside, holding signs and chanting slogans like “No more silence, end gun violence!” and “Gunn students for gun control!” Several students delivered speeches at the event, urging their peers to pressure their representatives in government to promote gun safety policies. The demonstration also marks the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, one of the worst school shootings in American history. The Palo Alto chapter of the League of Women Voters, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting informed public participation in government, hosted a booth helping students to register and pre-register to vote. Since the Parkland shooting in February, the gun control debate has once again been brought to the forefront of national politics.
Sophomore Abigail Sullivan holding posters at the gun control walkout while standing outside the library
"I organized the original walkout on the 14th of March and I have had personal experiences with school lockdowns—as I’m sure we all have; while they haven’t resulted in death and horrible things, they still are scary and they still are a real thing, and the fact that students out there are losing their friends, family members and their teachers to something that should be easily fixed is ridiculous," said Sophomore Abigail Sullivan.
Junior Zoe Adelsheim and Junior Avery Lythcott-Haims pre-resiter to vote at the walkout.
"This walkout is really important because we’re having more student speakers and we’re having the League of Women Voters here to register people to vote. So if you are sixteen, seventeen or eighteen you will be able to vote [once you reach legal age]. Even if you are not able to vote in the next elections you can vote in 2020," said Sophomore Abigail Sullivan
"Another thing that makes this walkout different is the fact that is so much later on from the Parkland shooting. You know, there was actually a school shooting, only 1 student was injured. There was 1 today and there was one 5 days ago. It’s still a major issue that affects us daily. Just because time has passed doesn’t mean we can let this issue go away. People stop caring because we are so normalized to this issue. We’re so used to people being shot down in a public place of education that we just accept it and move on after a while. I think it's time we realize that we need to all come out no matter how much longer afterward to create change and push for our politicians to make a better difference," said Sophomore Abigail Sullivan.
Junior Elizabeth Salwitz speaks on gun control and gun violence at the walk out
"I’m Elizabeth Salwitz, as you all know now. I am a junior here at Gunn High School. I am 17 years old and I have a future. For the 17 students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, they have no future. Their future was taken away from them in six short minutes.We will not forget them. Today is the 19th anniversary since the Columbine High School shooting. The shooting in Parkland was the 208th school shooting since then. I’m choosing not to ramble on and tell you about all the school shootings in our country’s history because I know you know them already. So I will leave you with some of my main thoughts on the issue. No one in this country needs a mass assault rifle like an AR-15. If our government cannot take action on this issue, we will," said Junior Elizabeth Salwitz
Sophomore Charlotte McCray attended the walk out on Friday
"I want to see more laws against guns and I want more people to understand what is happening because a lot of people don’t read the news so I think changes like this are going to make people realize what is happening," said Sophomore Charlotte McCray.
Liz Jensen of the League of Women Votes speaks
"My name is Liz Jensen, I’m with the League of Women Voters in Palo Alto. I was asked by one of the students here that is leading the effort today at Gunn to join in. Since the League is doing a lot of voter registration in Palo Alto, we’re doing a big push. We’re aiming for 100 percent of the teens in Palo Alto to vote. She thought that this is an appropriate venue to come to and I think it’s great because I want to register as many high school voters that are eligible to vote this year. You are the generation that will make a difference in the next election. You are going to make a difference in the world. You can have an effect on your officials, you can have an effect on what happens in this country, and there are a lot of countries where you don’t have a say in what happens. Right now, you, the millennials, are the biggest voting bloc in the country. This year you have surpassed the baby boomers in peer numbers and voters that are eligible to vote. You can make a bigger difference than any other age group in this country on elected officials and policy, so I think you have a big say in what happens in this country. You’re going to be living in it for the next few years," said Liz Jensen
Junior Sanaa Zakariya made posters and advocated for gun control at the walkout
"First, [Abigail Sullivan] made the Facebook event but I had the idea a couple weeks earlier. We just didn’t connect, exactly, but then I found her two weeks ago and we started organizing. I really wanted to do this because I want to be a politician or campaign manager when I grow up and I think these issues, particularly now after Parkland, March for Our Lives, are getting so much more attention and they have been deserving of this attention for the past two decades since Columbine, of which the 19th anniversary is today. It just marks such an important day in American history that people just forget about. It’s like one of the first mass shootings in American history, and it should be recognized because of [its] significance and because nothing has changed since then. Nothing has changed at all since then...I think now kids are speaking up. I think that’s the most important part of this movement, and I don’t think it will stop today. I think it will go all the way to the 2018 midterms to vote out people who do not support gun reform," said Junior Sanaa Zakariya
Compiled by Ryan Li
Photos by Sofia Sierra-Garcia