EDITORIAL: Walking out to end gun violence does make a different — it makes a statement


Midland junior Hunter Musselman poses for a portrait at the National School Walkout against gun violence on March 14 at Fabiano Botanical Gardens. 

On March 14, the country saw the largest effort of student-led protesting in U.S. history.

From elementary schools to universities, students left classes for 17 minutes to draw attention to the gun violence epidemic in the U.S. The specific amount of time was chosen to pay tribute to the 17 people who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one month earlier in Parkland, Florida.

Another mass protest is planned for March 24, to coenside with the March For Our Lives event in Washington, D.C. 

For those who can't attend the national march, smaller protests are being planned across the country out of solidarity — one will be hosted at Island Park in Mount Pleasant.

As a part of an industry that survives and thrives because of the First Amendment rights, we stand with those who have marched and plan to march again this week. 

Despite what some people are saying, your protesting does make a difference.

Each time a gun-related tragedy takes place in the U.S., it seems as though it follows a script: a shooting takes place, people grieve, there's a demand for stricter gun laws and then the event slowly fades from the public eye and nothing happens.

This time, it's different. This time, it must be different.

Those impacted by the school shooting in Parkland are forcing the nation to confront this subject and don't plan to stop. By creating these walkout events, they're forcing the U.S. to have this conversation. 

They're making the country talk about it. They're helping other students and citizens, stay informed about gun laws across the country and what their lawmakers are doing to keep their communities safer.

Even at the collegiate level, walking out makes a difference.

When students at Central Michigan University walked out of class for 17 minutes on March 14, people took to our Facebook and Twitter to leave disparaging comments: that walking out of classes you pay for is pointless, that people walk out of college classes all the time and don't come back on a daily basis.

The most frequent comment is that walking out changes nothing.

This is incorrect. These walkouts are flipping the script of how our country deals with mass shootings. These walkouts are forcing us to keep paying attention to the tragedy that occurs due to lax laws and gun culture's unwillingness to change.

A recent study found that between 1961 and 2012, there were 292 mass shootings around the world. Of that number, 90 mass shootings took place in the U.S. In a country that comprises 5 percent of the world's population, we accounted for 31 percent of the mass shootings during those years.

That study doesn't include the deaths in Parkland or at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival or the killings at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. 

Keeping with the status quo, staying complacent and not doing anything, will only result in more bloodshed.

A recent article published by CNN found that of the 30 deadliest shootings in U.S. history, 19 of them have occurred in the last decade.

We can't keep letting this happen.

If the so-called "adults" in power won't do anything to protect students, protect the residents of their cities and states, then it falls to us.

It falls to a younger generation — a generation not afraid to push back.

In past years, Millennials and Generation Z have been accused of being "keyboard warriors" or "slacktivists" — people who call for change from the safety of their own homes, but won't get up off the couch to do something about it.

Now, we're doing something about it.

You can either stand with us, or stand by as change leaves you in the dust.