More than a thousand students in the Nashville area walked out of their schools on Monday and marched to the Tennessee Capitol to call for stronger gun laws. These protests are in response to the shooting that killed six people at Covenant Elementary School last week.
The walkout started at 10:13 a.m., the same time Nashville police received the first call about an active shooter at the school.
“We all want to live through high school,” said 17-year-old Amy Goetzinger, one of the earliest students to arrive at Monday’s rally, “and that’s why we’re here today.”
The protest was assembled through March for Our Lives, a youth-led movement founded after the 2018 shooting that killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
In a rallying cry for people to join the walkout, March for our Lives posted a tweet saying, “It’s not drag queens, it’s not books, it’s not Black history, it’s not trans rights – GUNS are KILLING KIDS.”
At the Capitol, protestors lined the hallways of the Republican-dominated legislature and chanted, “Save our children!” Others silently filled the Senate gallery, holding signs reading “I’m nine” – a reference to the ages of the three children who died in the shooting.
Most protesters were removed from the gallery after some began yelling at lawmakers, “Children are dead!”
Meanwhile, Governor Bill Lee said he would propose another $155 million to place armed security guards at every Tennessee public school and provide additional mental health resources for Tennesseans. The governor said that, if approved by the legislature, the proposal would immediately increase the safety of teachers and students.
“This is a serious conversation needed about school safety,” Lee said. “It must begin with the recognition that we cannot control evil, but we can do something.
March for Our Lives has called out the Tennessee legislature to ban and restrict many things, but not assault weapons. Easy access to military-grade weapons is the number one concern of students. Firearms recently became the number one cause of death in children and teens in the United States.
According to NewsChannel 5, students and supporters are saying that semi-automatic rifles and assault-like weapons are weapons of war and should not be in the hands of citizens.
“We all are living in constant fear of gun violence,” 19-year-old Iman Omer said. “[and] that’s because gun violence is all around us.
“And we won’t accept it anymore.”