On March 14 at 10 AM thousands of students across New York City self-organized walk outs at their schools to take a stand against gun violence. From Brooklyn to the Bronx, students as young as 11 years old walked out of their classrooms and assembled in protest at courthouses and school yards.
In the Bronx, students walked out into the courtyard of their school in the hundreds at Mott Hall High School and the Urban Assembly School For Applied Math And Science. Students stormed out of the gates of their school and over 200 students marched to the Bronx Courthouse to demand action be taken to change the violence affecting their community.
Students from AMS High School who organized the march spoke out about the pervasive culture of violence affecting their everyday lives. While students were inspired by the students standing up in Florida, students cited their own experiences of losing classmates to violence and the numerous lockdowns they have experienced in the past year as their reason to fight.
Every student had a story to share about a loved one being shot or killed by gun violence. Students are tired of living in fear and waiting around for another loved one to die. Students sharply agitated against the politicians who refuse to to do anything about the pervasive issues of violence facing families of the Bronx. In fact, across the country violence interruption programs that work to resolve conflicts in poor and working class communities are often ignored or funding is completely cut.
In the current conversation around gun violence, the concerns from students in the Bronx are ignored in favor of partisan policy solutions that exist to get politicians elected to office, not to fundamentally change the conditions that young people are facing and fighting to change. Students carried signs and made speeches against the gun companies and politicians that continue to profit off of gun violence that is pervasive in communities across the country.
Each year politicians receive millions of dollars from the NRA. For instance, in the 2016 election, the NRA spent $11,438,118 to support Donald Trump. John McCain receives $7.74 million from the NRA for his support. The NRA can pay off politicians to support their agenda, but refuse to give support to police brutality victims like Philando Castile who was murdered by a police officer for having a weapon that he legally owned.
All across the country people are being killed by gun violence with no recourse to even hold gun companies responsible. In 2005, the firearms industry successfully pushed through the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA. In effect, the act protects gun manufacturers and sellers from legal action and civil claims brought by victims of gun violence. In other words, despite the fact that in 2016 alone, there were more than 38,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S., not a single gun company can be held legally responsible for even one of these deaths. These numbers do not include the thousands killed by law enforcement or suicide by gun, not to mention the hundred of thousands killed in imperialist wars abroad.
Every year, gun and ammunition manufacturing companies make an annual revenue of $13.5 billion dollars, with a $1.5 billion dollar profit. Gun companies make billions off the deaths they cause in the U.S. and in wars abroad without ever being held accountable. It becomes apparent when looking at the astronomical dollar amounts that politicians are paid and gun companies rake in every year from sales that this system would have no interest in doing anything to stop the epidemic of gun violence in the United States.
The only people who want to see the gun violence end are those who are directly impacted by it – not the politicians who propose false solutions as a way to divert attention away from the fact that they are getting rich off of people’s deaths.Students know why they are standing up, they see a system that is ignoring the crisis of violence that has disproportionately impacted communities of color for decades. Students want to see change, they want to see answers, and they know that not a single politician will do that for them. They must take the power into their own hands.