A Plan for Peace

Liberty students take a stand against U.S. gun laws


submitted by Nate Confer

Students who were able to walkout went to Broemmelsiek Park to protest with other gun control activists.

Nineteen years ago, the lives of high school students in the nation were forever changed. On April 20, 1999, two students at Columbine High School in Colorado shot and killed one teacher and 12 students and then took their own lives.

The tragic event at Columbine has left an imprint as the biggest school shooting with the most fatalities at the time. Thirteen years later, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 marked another point in time where gun violence had not ceased. And after years of firearm casualties, the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in February was the final tick that set off a widespread amount of youth to fight for change.

“I think that gun violence is a plague,” senior Sara Merz said. The previous school shootings combined with the recent one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has led to an uproar. As a result, teens across America are becoming activists for a world without gun violence.

“Gun control is outrageous these days and the fact that I could go out and buy a gun right now, it baffles me,” senior Nate Confer said. Confer’s main belief and goal is for the legal age to own a gun is to be raised to 21 years old.

“I just want to walkout to get gun control and try to modify the laws and hopefully someone will listen to us. That’s all we’re hoping for,” Confer said.

On April 20, Confer walked out of school along with Merz and about 20 other students. Merz, an advocate for gun control, also attended March for Our Lives in St. Louis on March 24.

“As soon as I heard we were doing a walkout here a couple months ago, I knew that I was going to participate,” Merz said.

The April 20 national walkout was planned to begin at 10 a.m. Upon walking out, students were to stay outside of the school for 17 minutes to honor the 17 students and staff that died at the Stoneman Douglas shooting along with those who passed at Columbine.

In order for a student to be able to protest, a parent must call them out of school in order to avoid punishment. The plan was for students to meet at O’Day Park and peacefully assemble. The plan, only being distributed shortly before 10:00, did not take flight so easily.

“Not everyone got a real walkout,” Confer said. The amount of students able to walkout decreased due to the requirement of the parent call. The students who were able to leave left to go to Broemmelsiek Park to protest, changing the initial plan to go to O’Day Park. At the park, they met other supporters for gun control and spread their cause together.

“We sat there for a couple of hours and met a lot of amazing people,” Merz said. “In some ways it really was a blessing,”

The group from Liberty then participated in a moment of silence for those who have died from gun violence and gave speeches to the crowd at the park.

Following the Stoneman Douglas shooting, many teen leaders have arisen from the issue. Teens like David Hogg and Jaclyn Corin, survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, have made their names known by inspiring and empowering other teenagers.

“I think it’s very brave of them [Hogg and Corin], I’m glad there’s someone to stand up for our cause,” Confer said. The ability of young adults to rise up in such a time of need shows the resilience of youth. The fight led by teens across the nation and supported by students of Liberty foreshadows a future of strong leaders and a wave of change to come.