Students are walking out of classes for stricter gun laws. But Trump has backtracked.

Students are walking out of classrooms across the US, waving signs and chanting their demands for tighter gun safety laws.

This comes exactly a month after a former student opened fire at a Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 people and injuring several others.

The hashtag ENOUGH National School Walkout began at 10am local time on Wednesday with 17-minute walkouts planned at 10am in each time zone.

“Thoughts and prayers are not enough,” read one student’s sign in New York City, needling the rote response many lawmakers make after mass shootings.

In Parkland, Florida, thousands of students slowly filed on to the Stoneman Douglas school football field to the applause of families and supporters beyond the fences. Law enforcement officers looked on and news helicopters thrummed overhead.

The walkouts are part of a burgeoning, grassroots movement that grew out of the Parkland attack.

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Students are lobbying for tighter gun laws, because the horror that unfolded in the Stoneman Douglas corridors is only the latest in a series of shootings that have plagued US schools for nearly two decades.

These students want Florida to be the last school massacre in the country’s history.

They’ve successfully lobbied the state’s governor, with Florida last week raising the minimum age for buying any kind of gun from 18 to 21 years.

But the same measures are unlikely to be seen nationwide as Donald Trump has backtracked on his promise to stand up to the gun lobby – despite meeting with several students himself.

Amelia Lester explains why the aftermath of the school shooting in Florida feels different to that of any shooting before it.

Immediately following the attack, the Republican president, who championed gun rights during his 2016 campaign, vowed to take action to prevent future school shootings.

Trump stunned members of Congress during White House meetings by endorsing proposals long opposed by his fellow Republicans and accusing lawmakers of being afraid of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

He said he would back moves to raise the minimum age for puchasing a gun, and to block the sale of bump stocks – or devices that turn firearms into machine guns.


But now, after no doubt receiving immense pressure from his party and the NRA, he is stalling.

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He said this week he will wait for the courts to rule before deciding to act on raising the minimum age for some gun purchases.

“On 18 to 21 age limits, watching court cases and rulings before acting. States are making this decision. Things are moving rapidly on this, but not much political support (to put it mildly),” Trump wrote on Twitter.

And he said he believes arming teachers will deter school shootings and better protect students when they happen – an idea that is, of course, backed by the NRA because it means more guns. 

“We don’t feel safe in schools anymore,” Sarah Chatfield said. The 15-year-old high school student from Maryland had joined a crowd of hundreds protesting outside the White House, with some sitting silent with their backs turned.


“Trump is talking about arming teachers with guns,” she said. “That is not a step in the right direction.”

In all, students from more than 2800 schools and groups are joining the walkouts, many with the backing of their school districts.

With AAP. 


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