Camas, WA — Camas High School students are aligning with other Southwest Washington schools to walk out of classes on March 14 to address their concerns about the Douglas High School shootings.
The national walkout was organized by Women’s March Youth EMPOWER to “protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”
It is also part of a national #NeverAgain campaign, which originated with survivors of the shootings. The group has organized protests demanding legislative action to prevent similar shootings from happening, and is focused on calling out U.S. lawmakers who have received political contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“We are planning for the March 14th walkout in solidarity with Parkland, Florida,” said Camas High School student, Abigail Jiang. “… A group of us are collaborating with walkout organizers from all the high schools in the area to get student support for a letter to our local representatives regarding Parkland, school shootings and gun reform.”
Jiang said the walkout will be brief and allow 17 minutes of dialogue “with each minute focusing on the 17 people who died at Douglas High School.”
In reaction to the walkout, Camas School District issued the following statement:
“The Camas School District supports students’ rights to express their views in a peaceful manner, including their constitutional right to assemble peacefully. (Board Procedure 3220P Freedom of Expression). As educators, we consider it important to create the conditions for students to develop into responsible global citizens who are critical thinkers and take responsible action to shape their communities.
“While students at Camas High School have met with administration to coordinate the on-campus walkout for those who choose to participate, this is not a school-sponsored event. Classes are operating on a normal schedule, and we expect staff and students to be engaged in teaching and learning. We will work together to ensure that our processes support our community’s expectation for safety and supervision.”
In addition to the walkout, several Camas High School students have drafted a letter to Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and other local government officials and organizations.
This is the letter:
Dear Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (and other local government officials/organizations),
Over the past few weeks, my classmates and I have been unable to remove the horrifying events of Parkland from our minds. Parkland was an affluent suburb known for being a safe city and for its great public school system. This description is nearly identical to many schools in Southwest Washington, where we live. Seventeen students died. We watched the videos and felt nauseous, and could only picture ourselves in their shoes. We are deeply saddened and worried to discover your views on gun control, track your voting record, and learn of your dealings with the NRA. You have stayed completely silent online regarding this tragic event. You have accepted thousands of dollars from the NRA, more than any other Washington Congressperson. Addressing mental health is extremely important, but it is not enough to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands. Never again do we want to see a mass shooting, whether it be at a school, public venue, or place of worship. We, the students of Southwest Washington, demand that you take action against gun violence. More specifically, we demand that you:
- Help in the banning of military-grade assault rifles and high-capacity magazines of more than 10 rounds to reduce the breadth and depth of damage mass shooters have the potential to inflict.
- Ban bump stocks that turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic ones. No civilian needs such weapons for self-defense.
- Raise the age requirement to buy an AR-15 – the gun used in the Parkland shooting – from 18 to 21.
- Lift the ban on federally funded research into causes of gun violence (the Dickey Amendment). The CDC should be allowed to extensively investigate gun violence as a public safety concern. The CDC researched car safety and smoking – this is no different.
- Implement universal background checks, a policy that already has wide bipartisan support. Show support for implementing background checks at gun shows and online to make sure there are no loopholes where unstable individuals can obtain these weapons. You have supported loose measures on gun show purchases in the past, and this is unacceptable.
- Extend the period of time investigators have to complete delayed background checks from 3 to 14 days. This would enhance law enforcement’s ability to prevent gun violence.
- Increase funding for mental health services. While mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of yearly gun-related homicides, providing mental health services could prevent a mass shooter from ever acting on their thoughts.
- Keep local government organizations, such as the Sheriff’s office and local FBI, accountable. Our lives depend on the integrity of their actions.
My fellow classmates and I deserve to go to school without worrying if the next time we hear a fire alarm pulled, we could be shot. We deserve to live when we step foot into our schools. We deserve to have a Congressperson that represents our demands. Mental health cannot be regulated, but guns can. This legislation would not infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights of responsible citizens. Students are dying, and yet our representatives continue to do nothing, too worried about the next election to create meaningful reform that could save our lives. We are the voice of the new generation, the next voting generation, and we implore you to support common sense gun control to help save the lives of students all across the country.
Concerned High School Students in the 3rd Legislative District (Southwest Washington)